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Assessing on-farm assets for diversification

What do you have on-farm that could be put to good use?

Farm diversification is becoming more common among the rural community as farmers and landowner seek an alternative, stable income in addition to traditional farming.

The 2016/17 Defra Farm Business Survey revealed that two-thirds of farmers had diversified into non-agricultural businesses generating an average of £17,000 in additional income over a 12 month period.

When it comes to choosing what diversification route may be right for you, rather than following the trend, it’s imperative that you consider the assets you already have available and how these could be put to use.

These do not just have to be tangible assets but things such as your knowledge and experience which you can’t put a price on.

Below are examples of the ‘assets’ that are worth considering before making the decision to diversify.

Land availability

Whether it’s owned or let, farmers are blessed with the land they have access to. Traditionally, land would have either been used for cropping, grazing or for countryside stewardship. However, it’s worth considering how you may be able to use your land differently to generate an additional income stream.

That could be growing different crops not commonly grown in the UK, using unused areas for festivals and events or even planting trees, these are all ideas to consider with the space you have available.

Location

Where you are based should have a bearing on your diversification ideas. Are you within easy access to market outlets? Are you in a booming leisure or tourism area? Are you near a main road with a lot of passing traffic?

The answers to these types of questions may highlight the potential demand and route to market for your product or service. For example, a farm shop in a semi-urban area, located near a busy road may be more successful than one that is off the beaten track.

Inadvertently, it may be that the location of your business will not impact your offerings. This may be the case if you are running an online business that can be accessed from anywhere. In other words, it doesn’t rely on the passing trade or nearby outlets, rather the reliability of technology and connectivity.

On-farm facilities and infrastructure

Consider what buildings, facilities and infrastructure you already have on-farm that could be put to good use. For example, redundant buildings could be rented out for storage or workshops. See our article on ‘Money making ideas for redundant buildings’ for more information and ideas.

Would the layout of the farm allow for easy access to visitors? With the right facilities, such as a hand wash area and toilets, could you offer educational visits?

Could you make the farm layout and buildings you have available work for you and your new business idea?

Skills, knowledge and experience

You may not think it, but your skills, knowledge and experience are an extremely valuable asset. If you have experience in a certain field, or relevant skills to put to good use, think about the business opportunities this could offer.

You don’t have to be the next consultant, but you may be surprised how your organisational skills, for example, could go a long way to not only helping get your new business venture up and running but also form part of the service you are offering; an events planner or children’s farm party organiser for example.

Taking into account the above, try and look at your farm from a different perspective. Rather than looking at the farm as a whole, try and look at it as a string of assets which could provide guidance on the type of diversification project that may be suitable for you, that could work alongside the existing farm business and work with the assets you have available. 

Farm diversification, diversification ideas, rural business, rural business ideas
 

About The Author

Rosie Hopkins 

The Business Barn

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