Brexit and farm payments – time to plan forward
Published January 16th, 2018
With the Farm and Environment Secretary confirming that changes are ahead for farm support post Brexit, farmers should take stock of their farm as a business and plan ahead for the future.
“In his recent speech to the Oxford Farming Conference, Farm and Environment Secretary, Michael Gove confirmed what has been long expected – Brexit will provide an opportunity to redefine how support is provided to the farming industry,” said Mark Lord, business consultant at Berrys.
“Gove stated that government interventions need to be ‘targeted, proportionate and limited’. He said subsidies linked to the size of land holding or headage payments reward incumbents, restrict new thinking and ultimately hold back innovation and efficiency.
“The minister also mentioned that industries which come to rely on importing cheap labour ‘run the risk of failing to invest in the innovation required to become genuinely more productive’.”
The positive news in his speech for many farmers was the indication that the current scheme will remain with us until 2024, providing every existing farmer who receives a BPS payment with a guaranteed income over what Gove referred to as ‘this extended transition period’.
This period, he stated, is to provide time for farmers to change their business model if necessary, help to make the investment necessary for any adjustments and prepare for the future.
As a former agricultural banker Mark Lord is well versed to change and making the most of opportunities in challenging times.
“During my banking career I saw many changes in the farming sector but nothing to compare with the impact that Brexit is likely to have,” Mark said.
“In my experience, the most successful businesses are the ones who plan forward and constantly challenge how they operate.
“There is no time like the present to start to give your business a full health check to see if it is equipped and ready for the future.
“Ask yourself these three simple questions,” he said:
Am I making the most of any grant funding to help to improve the business infrastructure?
What would improve my efficiency and productivity?
Are the finances of my business fit for the years ahead?
“While the cost of borrowing remains low and long-term fixed interest rates are still good value for money, now is an opportune time to review how your borrowings are structured to check that they match up to your long-term objectives,” he added.
If you would like to talk to Mark Lord about helping your business through this period, he can be contacted at the Shrewsbury office of Berrys on 01743 290634 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org