If you thought 2021 was a year of change in the farm and land management landscape, then just wait for 2022!
How we manage our landscape is changing more quickly than ever before, driven by environmental and political pressure. State financial support for growing food is reducing with farm Basic Payment Scheme disappearing completely by 2028 at the latest to be replaced, though not to the same level, with environmental funding. If we want to take financial support, then we need to have sound business reasons for taking it as there will be strings attached. If a business, farm or otherwise, isn’t generating a profit and paying a sensible income to the owner, then we must question and re-assess what we are doing. Difficult choices will need to be made. Consider, why are we doing what we’re doing and where do we want to be in 10 years time?
If we can manage our land without State Subsidy, or don’t need to generate an income, there will be far more flexibility in what we can do.
So how can we manage our land without financial help? By clarifying and understanding our objectives, then working towards those objectives as efficiently as possible. That doesn’t always mean doing things as cheaply as we can, but ensuring we stay on track and working as efficiently (and safely) as we can.
If we do need to generate income, then we need to know and understand our market by profiling the people or businesses buying from us. What are their wants and drivers? Where do the live? What are their aspirations? What can we offer that is better than our competitors that they will gladly pay more for?
We need to think about what we can do differently to the way we’ve worked in the past. Alternative cropping, longer rotations, introducing livestock either our own or through agreement with another farmer. Be open to opportunity. Do remember, there is an awful lot of money out there and many people ready to spend it. Identify those people then produce and sell them what they want.
If you are keen to tap into funding, for the right reasons, then there are many financial grants currently available, and others being promised, some of which are more generous than others, but all come with strings attached. Remember, nothing comes free so choose the grant to fit what you want to achieve.
Key sources to UK Government income this year include the BPS exit (retirement) scheme, Farm Productivity grants, Farming in a Protected Landscape (AONB) funding, English Woodland Creation Offer and Countryside Stewardship and Sustainable Farm Incentive, Woodland Carbon fund.
Exterior revenue streams available include selling carbon and biodiversity offsetting. These are both in their infancy but can work well depending on individual circumstances.
Do remember, your farm and circumstances are unique to you. No two farms or businesses are the same. Just because something worked for a neighbour, it doesn’t follow that the same will work for you.
At James Gillies Consultancy, we can help you to identify your objectives and draw up a plan to help you manage your land to reach them. Do get in touch for confidential, independent, practical advice.