The Registered Agricultural Consultant (RAC)
- The concept is aimed at achieving:-
- greater recognition and respect within the industry
- greater recognition and respect by Government Departments
- setting a baseline for the minimum required standards for all non Teagasc advisors (including those subcontracted in by Teagasc).
- Exclusivity (along with Teagasc advisors but not including Teagasc sub-contractors) in signing off on all relevant scheme applications (ACA is currently actively pursuing this aim).
- abolish the enigma that is the term ‘planner’ for ever
- to create a ‘gold standard’ for all practitioners who wish to participate
- to also accommodate those who for whatever reason do not wish to engage with or do not satisfy the CPE requirements
- for ACA to take ownership of administrating CPE for all practitioners before some alternative organisation does so.
ADMINISTRATION & EXECUTION
- ACA will be the body responsible for awarding and policing the designation.
- The designation will be RAC (Registered Agricultural Consultant).
- ACA members may continue to use the MACA designation if they so wish but it is envisioned that RAC would be seen as the higher designation and presumably only those members who do not meet the CPD requirements will continue to use the MACA designation.
- Persons eligible for designation will need to satisfy all of the following conditions
- Level 8 graduates in Agricultural Science or equivalent.
- Persons with at least two years relevant experience.
- Persons with Professional indemnity Insurance cover of €200,000 minimum.
- Persons who are working on their own behalf as an agricultural consultant or working for a firm of agricultural consultants as a director, partner or employee.
- Persons who sign up to an approved CPD programme (ACA will determine which programmes are approved)) and who meet a specified number of CPD points in any year.
- Persons who sign up to observe a code of conduct similar to that in operation by ACA.
COMMENCEMENT – TRANSITIONAL ARRANGEMENTS
The programme will commence immediately and members are entitled to use the designation from now on. The first CPE return will be due by 1 January 2017 and will require a minimum of 75 credits. Thereafter, participants will require a rolling two year average of 100 points ,e.g., if you have 75 points in 2016 you will need 125 points in 2017 to meet the minimum rolling average requirement.
Rules and Procedures on Continuing Professional Education for
Registered Agricultural Consultants
The Agricultural Consultants Association (A.C.A.) is the professional body representing the majority of private agricultural consultants operating in the Republic of Ireland. Members are required to hold a level 8 University Degree in an appropriate discipline, have at least two years relevant experience, commit to a basic programme of Continuous Professional Education and hold professional indemnity insurance. Members are also required to observe a strict code of professional standards and behaviour. ACA consultants provide advice, technical and administrative support to over 50,000 farmers in Ireland through a network of over 150 member firms employing in excess of 300 professional staff.
- The Registered Agricultural Consultant
ACA are the body charged with certifying appropriately qualified and experienced graduates in Agricultural Science with the designation Registered Agricultural Consultant (RAC). Persons qualifying for the designation will meet all of the qualifying conditions for membership of ACA as set down in the ACA constitution (www.aca.ie) and will also sign up to and meet the minimum CPE points requirement as set down in this document.
2.0 Continuing Professional Education
The ACA CPE system runs for a full calendar year from 1st January to the 31st December. It is reviewed and updated annually. It is overseen by a subcommittee of the ACA and is designed to be:
- transparent and easy to implement and monitor
- flexible in content and comprehensive in coverage
- inclusive of a strong emphasis on personal initiative and self-regulation
- designed to award on the basis of conference/event attendance and personal educational improvements undertaken
- to include a mechanism for revocation
3.0 Individual CPE credit requirements
Members must achieve a minimum of 100 CPE credits per year over an average of 2 years. This is based on the table of events and their credits attached (Appendix 1). Credits must be derived from a minimum of five different event categories.
4.0 Certification Procedure
ACA propose that the member is the main arbiter as to whether a course and related content is appropriate and relevant to their own work requirements, however, all undertakings and intentions being considered by individuals for the purpose of obtaining CPE credits, that are not included or listed on the attached table should first be cleared with the ACA (subcommittee) and appropriate credits determined in advance. This applies to decisions on what suitable events to attend and their course content.
The evaluation and review of the CPE accreditation system will take the form of an open consultation with all members of ACA and other interested parties, including commercial companies, Teagasc and the Department of Agriculture.
5.0 Event and Course Approval Requirements
In addition to the range of CPE courses and events offered by other providers, the ACA may itself establish CPE credible events or courses. The ACA CPE subcommittee reserves the right to approve providers of courses or events in advance. All CPE events and courses conducted by approved providers must meet the requirements for CPE events or courses set from time to time by the CPE subcommittee. With the exception of Teagasc or Department of Agriculture, whose courses or events automatically qualify, for the purpose of gaining accreditation for the provision of courses and events that qualify for CPE credits the provider must meet and assure compliance with the requirements as outlined hereu8nder.
- Event or course content – CPE events or courses must be designed to reflect the educational needs of the member and should build on the knowledge of the participants involved. The content should include intellectual and practical aspects on the subject matter as appropriate. The content of the course must be clearly set out and include a statement of objectives for the event and the likely knowledge or skill that the participants will gain from attendance.
- Event or course approval procedure – The proposed provider must provide at least 14 days prior notice to the date the course or event is to be given. Prior to the CPE activity the provider should set out the details of the proposed course which should include the time, location, duration, topics and speakers involved, a statement of the objectives and a summary of the knowledge participants should hope to gain from the course.
- Methods of delivery of Events or Course – All paper work involved for courses and events should be submitted to the ACA Secretariat office within two weeks of the commencement of the educational CPE activity. Approval to proceed with the proposed course or event may be by post, fax or electronic means. The method of delivery should, where possible, encourage active participation or involvement on the part of all the participants. Events or courses must also allow feedback from participants to permit evaluation of the event or course.
- The event or course Presenter’s Qualifications – Presenters must be suitably qualified to teach each segment of the course or module covered. A brief C.V. for each presenter must be maintained by the provider and submitted to the ACA CPE subcommittee for approval.
- Record keeping – The provider must maintain copies of all documentation used in delivery of events or courses. These records should be maintained for a minimum of 5 years and should include but are not limited to the following:
- Events or course outlines
- Location of events or course
- Details of presenters qualifications and experience
- Registration of attendance records
- Evaluation forms
- Copy of ACA CPE subcommittee’s accreditation and approval
- Certification of Participation – Participation in any event or course must be confirmed. This may be provided by issue of a certificate of attendance identifying the participant and specifying the course, the providers name, the date, the duration, the subject matter and the number of CPE credits earned.
6.0 ACA CPE subcommittee recognition of specific events or courses
The subcommittee reserves the right to recognise specific single programs or aspects of programs approved and provided by other professional associations such as ASA, ITCA, IVU, Institute of Taxation and any other body that the sub-committee considers relevant..
7.0 Denial of CPE credits for an event or course
The subcommittee may deny an application for an approval for a CPE event or course or may suspend or revoke such approval on the grounds that the event or course fails to meet the requirements laid down by this document or is insufficient or contains incorrect information when the approval was provided initially. Should an application for a CPE event or course be denied, the applicant will be sent a notice setting out the reasons for this.
- The denial of an application will become final 14 days after the mailing of the notice unless the provider indicates, in written form, his intention to lodge an appeal.
- The subcommittee shall make a final order at the conclusion of any such appeal setting out the results of the appeal. The decision of the appeals committee shall be binding on both parties.
8.0 Audit of Records
The ACA Audit procedure will include, from time to time, the selection by the CPE subcommittee, in a random manner, a number of individual’s records for audit of CPE credits. Each advisor will be required to produce all relevant documentation of attendance at CPE events or courses. Records must be available for inspection for audit purposes for the ACA subcommittee and to any authorised officer of the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine.
9.0 Verification of attendance and maintenance of CPE Records
Each advisor shall be responsible for maintaining their own records of CPE events and courses attended. These can include but are not limited to the production of a record of attendance sheet compiled by the organising body, a receipt for payment for attendance at the event, production of meeting minutes with attendance noted or other documentation from the event that proves attendance such as candidate ID badges, coupons. Relevant group photographs, dated from the event will help to substantiate attendance.
These records and supporting verification/validation documentation are to be maintained in hard copy by all members and shall be retained for a period of 5 years for audit purposes.
10.0 Annual Returns
Each participant shall be required to submit an annual return to the ACA Secretariat Office on or before the 31st January in each year detailing points earned in the immediately prior calendar year. Failure to make such a return shall result in automatic removal from the approved list of Registered Agricultural Consultants. The first such return will be due by the 31st January 2017. The return form template is contained in appendix 2 of this document. A signed copy of the return may be returned electronically in scanned form or alternatively may be submitted by post.
Where a participant fails to file an annual return by the due date as set down at 10.0 above, or where a participant is found, following an audit of records by the CPE subcommittee, to have made an invalid annual return, such participants will be removed from the official list of Registered Agricultural Consultants for the following calendar year and the Department of Agriculture will be immediately notified of same. The earliest date for applications for reinstatement is the 1st of January of the calendar year immediately following the first full calendar year in which the person was removed from the official list. In order to be eligible for reinstatement the person must clearly demonstrate that sufficient CPE points have been accumulated in the immediately prior calendar year that would meet the normal annual CPE requirement for Registered Agricultural Consultants.