New leader for farm secretaries lives in Vale

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Former farm secretary Billie Johnson has been elected chairman of the Institute of Agricultural Secretaries and Administrators (IAgSA).

As a partner of Ellam Oxtoby & Peck, a firm of agricultural consultants and accountants, Mrs Johnson is well placed to understand the challenges facing the farming industry and its professional administrators.

Mrs Johnson is married to a Boarstall dairy and arable farmer near Aylesbury, and said: “Farm secretaries are usually self employed and work for several clients unless they are employed by a large estate.

“The role of the institute is to support the ones on their own as they don’t have peers working alongside them to share things with.”

With most farmers and farm secretaries now aged 60+ Mrs Johnson said one of the challenges of her new role is to help members adjust to new technology.

She said: “Members need to embrace technological change such as Real Time Information reporting of PAYE which is one of the current issues. It will be important to consider innovative ways to overcome hurdles such as lack of broadband in rural areas and use initiative to find the best solution for both parties.

“The Government have made it very clear that they will expect all returns to be made over the internet in time via their ‘Digital by Default’ programme.”