7 January 2000

Honouring the very best…

MORE and more farmers are turning to professional help in the farm office. As incomes continue to be squeezed and labour becomes harder to justify, there is less time to tackle the red tape and cope with the mountains of paperwork which even a modest size business now generates.

Whether a part-time secretary helping out with the wages and bills for a couple of hours a month, or a full-time office administrator capable of preparing budgets, such staff are becoming highly valued members of the farm team.

Each year, the Institute of Agricultural Secretaries and Administrators organises the Farm Secretary of the Year competition to recognise the very best in the business. Three valuable prizes are on offer, one for qualified secretaries, and two student awards.

Heres how the competition works. Firstly, answer four of the five first round questions, and send your answers off to IAgSA with your CV. The best of the first round entrants will be asked to complete a second round paper on one or more topical subjects in the spring. Impress the judges, and you will join 14 other finalists at Lasham Woodland Training Centre in May.

The day includes an informal discussion with judges on submitted papers, an administration skills test, and team tasks devised by Lasham owners David and Millie Shaylor to allow finalists to demonstrate their co-operation, communication and organisational skills.

Its a day not to be missed. So, start answering those questions, fill in the entry form and return with your CV to IAgSA as soon as possible.

Pick of the best… Linda Bratley (top right), from Middleton on the Wolds, near Driffield, Yorks, was voted Farm Secretary of the Year 1999, while Valerie Crampton, from Steyning, West Sussex took the honours in the mature student section. Top of the under-21s was Megan Pugsley (right), who lives in Axminster, Devon.

Beam me up… Lasham Woodland Training Centre in Hants provides an ideal venue for the competition finals, which include a wide choice of tasks to test communication

and organisational skills.

WHICHCATEGORY?

&#8226 The competition is divided into three sections:

&#8226 Senior award. For full and part-time secretaries working in the industry. The prize in this section is £500 from Lloyds TSB, a selection of Farmplan computer software and a years subscription to the Royal Agricultural Society of England and to farmers weekly.

&#8226 Mary Collins award. For students under 21 on Feb 28 2000, with prize money of £125, a years subscription to farmers weekly plus membership of IAgSA for one year.

&#8226 Mature Student award. For students over 21 on Feb 28 2000. Prizes as for Mary Collins award.

&#8226 Entrants may be self-nominated or put forward by their employer. Employers nominating a winner will receive a bottle of champagne.

RULES

1 Entrants must be bona-fide farm secretaries working either full or part-time in Great Britain or students taking an agricultural course here (full or part-time).

2 The competition will be run in three sections, the Senior Award for the Farm Secretary of the Year, the Mary Collins Award for the best student under 21 years on the closing date for entries, and the Mature Student Award for the best student over 21 years on the closing date for entries.

3 Complete the entry form in ink, clearly indicating which section you wish to enter, enclosing a copy of your curriculum vitae plus the replies to the questions on A4 paper. Please state if you have a particular area of specialisation (eg dairy industry, horticulture). Entries to arrive no later than Feb 18, 2000.

Details to be included in the curriculum vitae: m Names and addresses of two referees (one work reference, one character reference);

m Senior category – details of current and past work and other relevant information, eg on-going training, career aspirations;

m Mary Collins category – work intentions once course is completed plus details of any vacation/pre-college employment;

m Mature Student category – as Mary Collins category, plus reasons for retraining, if applicable, as a farm secretary

4 Successful entrants will be asked to attend the final selections at the Lasham Woodland Training Centre in Hants on Fri, May 19, 2000. At the training centre entrants will be given a range of team tasks to complete, have an individual, informal discussion with the judges and will undertake a case study on administration skills.

5 The winners will be announced at a reception hosted by Lloyds TSB at the Royal Show on Mon, July 3 2000.

6 All judges will be appointed by the Institute of Agricultural Secretaries and Administrators, Lloyds TSB and farmers weekly. All referees may be contacted.

7 Standard class return rail fares or mileage expenses will be paid for those attending the final selections.

8 All entries will be acknowledged but no entries will be accepted after the closing date. No responsibility will be accepted for entries delayed or lost in the post or otherwise. Proof of posting will not be accepted as proof of delivery.

9 The decision of the judges will be final and no communication will be entered into.

Farm Secretary of the Year Competition

Round 1 questions

Answer four of the following questions in 100-200 words.

1 A client operates a shoot on his farm, engaging casual beaters during the season. He pays them cash for their services. What is the correct treatment for tax and National Insurance for such payments?

2 What do you consider to be the correct procedure for backing up your accounts program to ensure a failsafe system?

3 An employee has asked you about WFTC. What is it, and how does it operate? Bullet point your reply to him.

4 Outline briefly the purpose of the Working Time Regulations 1998 and explain what procedure you would take to ensure agricultural workers adhere to them.

5 You have been asked to help with the year-end farm valuation. Explain which tax guidelines would apply and what the following definitions mean, by example: A Herd basis: B Deemed cost: C Net realisable value.

To: The Secretary, Institute of Agricultural Secretaries and Administrators, National Agricultural Centre, Stoneleigh, Warks, CV8 2LZ

(IN CAPITALS) Full name Mr/Mrs/Ms…………………………………………………

Address………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….Postcode…………….

Date of birth………………………………………Tel…………………………………

Category entered:

p Senior p Mary Collins p Mature Student

p Tick if interested in further details about IAgSA

I/we nominate my/our secretary for the 2000 Farm Secretary of the Year competition:

Name………………………………………………………………………………………….

Address……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………

Entries to be returned by Feb 18, 2000.