Rural professionals will be able to demonstrate their high professional skills and standards with a new certification.

The Institute of Agricultural Management (IAgrM) has launched a grade of membership called Professional Agriculturalist (P.Agric) to reflect best levels of practice.

About 75 people have achieved the status so far and, now it has been publicly launched, IAgrM hopes 500 more people will gain the qualification in the next year.

IAgrM hopes other organisations such as Nuffield and the Worshipful Company of Farmers can use the P.Agric as well.

It wants about 5,000 professionals to achieve the title so it can apply for chartered agricultural status, putting farming on a level with the likes of engineers and surveyors.

See also: Advice and information on careers and jobs in farming

IAgrM chairman Tim Brigstocke said the mood was right in the industry to launch the new standard.

“There is a need to take the next step to promote the huge amount of training and professionalism there is in agriculture,” he said.

“We are not precious about the moniker and we are very keen to link in with other like-minded organisations to get the numbers for chartered status.”

IAgrM already has two levels of membership – members and fellows.

Candidates for the P.Agric will have to complete an application form and attend a rigorous interview with two trained assessors.

Once they have reached the status, they must carry out 60 hours of continuing professional development a year.

Euston Estate farm director Andrew Blenkiron (pictured) was one of the first to receive a P.Agric.

“It is about being recognised for my efforts in agriculture,” he said. “It helps to demonstrate professionalism among my peers.”