Farm office ‘bible’ is back

Mike Hosken with the Farm Office Handbook.
Mike Hosken with the Farm Office Handbook.

THE ‘bible’ for farm secretaries is being relaunched next week.

The Farm Office Handbook, an invaluable reference book for farm secretaries, will be published next Friday.

It has been compiled by a team made up of members of the Institute of Agricultural Secretaries and Administrators.

In 1976, Mike Hosken, then teaching at an agricultural college in West Suffolk, wrote the first Farm Office book, which was published by the Farming Press.

It was principally designed as a guide for farmers, their wives, other family members or whoever got lumbered with doing all the official paperwork on the farm. It quickly became established with a reputation as the ‘bible’ for farm secretaries.

It was also adopted as the starting point for training professional farm secretaries. Farm Office went through four editions and reprints by the time Mike retired.

There was then a lengthy gap until 2010, with no new edition and no alternative publication.

Members of IAgSA, the Institute of Agricultural Secretaries and Administrators, felt the lack so severely that Mike was tracked down to his home in Seahouses and asked about the possibility of an update.

Mike said: “I couldn’t possibly have done the revision myself. Too much had changed during the years of my retirement – computerisation, some of it mandatory, the internet, a whole succession of EEC grant and control schemes, environmental developments and restrictions, and quality supervision for ‘organic’ status and the like.

“So although the basic shape of my original Farm Office book is retained, all the new detail has been provided by qualified folk currently involved in farm secretarial work, almost literally in the field.”

The foreword is provided by the Minister of State for Agriculture and Food, Jim Paice.

The outcome is a 216-page book plus index, from Old Pond Publishing. It costs £19.95, ISBN 978-1-908397-11-9.

“The title has changed slightly, to Farm Office Handbook. That’s because the new version is also a reference source covering all forms of farm and rural involvement, including a huge range of web addresses for contacts and detailed information,” said Mike.

There is a Northumberland branch of IAgSA . Membership is open to both professionals and lumbered-with-the-job amateurs. Contact Emma Brown on 07966 902866.