Currency relief may precede another downturn, farmers warned

A weak pound may give farmers a buoyant couple of years ahead of Brexit but their industry could be plunged into another downturn after 2020, finance experts have warned.

This year's farm support payments are worth 16.5 per cent more because of the depreciating value of the pound. Picture: Daniel Leal-Olivas/PA Wire

Farm accountants are advising farmers to evaluate their business plans to both protect against future volatility and to capitalise on “the good times”.

The weak pound since the EU referendum has so far made exports more competitive and has boosted the value of this year’s EU support payments by 16.5 per cent, Old Mill reported, prompting the company’s head of rural services, Andrew Vickery, to forecast “two or three very good years” for the industry if the situation continues.

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But Paul Blundell, relationship director in rural services at HSBC bank, said Brexit uncertainty and 2020 reforms of the EU’s Common Agricultural Policy means farmers must prepare for a future with “ambiguous government support”.

Mr Blundell said: “It’s really important to look ahead. You need to get your business in a shape that you can farm the way you want to without financial support.”

The warning for the industry’s future comes after the Government announced that it will be making grants worth £15.9m available to help farmers in England to better manage volatile markets and improve their business sustainability.

The funding is part of an overall £25.6m package that the UK Government has secured from the EU Commission in adjustment aid for dairy and livestock farmers.

Farming Minister George Eustice said: “I encourage farmers to take advantage of these opportunities to become more sustainable, resilient and competitive.”