09 May 2019

Rural conference highlights the significance of farm diversification

Speakers from across the farming industry shared real-life experiences and insights into the challenges and opportunities for farming and agricultural businesses at law firm Lodders’ inaugural Rural Conference.

The ‘Future of Farming’ event explored the impact of Brexit, opportunities for farm diversification, conservation and mental health issues, with speakers from NFU, The Game and Wildlife Conservation Trust, Farming Community Network, and Fresh Start Land Enterprise Centre.

Head of Lodders’ Rural Sector team James Spreckley, said of the conference, “This is one of the most significant times for the UK’s farming and countryside sectors.

“Brexit is looming, bringing with it uncertainty for farmers about what will happen over Defra’s financial support and any replacement scheme, the impact on the costs of inputs, and the possible implications of tariffs for exports. Our Rural Conference brought together a line-up of speakers who each offered some clarity, reassurance and practical information on issues such as these.

“Diversifying operations continues to be one of the best and most appealing options for farmers to future-proof a farming business,” he added.

“So long as the business or operation that is at the heart of diversification is complimentary. Increasingly, a diversified farm is the face of today’s and tomorrow’s modern mixed farm.”

Collaboration

One relatively new concept that is supporting farm succession and continuity, and which has the potential to greatly benefit the farming sector by helping new entrants is collaboration.

Fresh Start Land Enterprise Centre encourages new thinking about collaboration among landowners and new entrants and business entrepreneurs. Its MD, Alison Rickett explained, “Through options for those with land and assets and those without, we facilitate land partnerships to unlock business innovation.

“This match-making service can help to create the next generation of farmers and agri-businesses, by pairing those with land and assets, and those with energy and ideas, in turn helping new rural entrepreneurs to get a foot on the ladder.”

James Spreckley went on to say, “Many landowners have had to alter their farming practices and diversify in response to increasing economic and social pressures.

“The rural sector is unique in many ways and demands legal expertise covering a broader spectrum than probably any other area.

“Now, more than ever, farmers need advice and support from people who really understand the sector and the challenges they and their rural businesses face. This extends from guidance on their diversification plans, to helping them with succession plans that protect the future of the farm.”

Find out more about Lodders here.

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