From environmental pressures to the economy, agricultural businesses and rural life in the UK has rarely been under so much pressure – or faced so many opportunities.
But what are the key issues that confront today’s farming communities? Which topics will top the agenda as thousands gather for the highlight of the East Riding rural calendar, the Driffield Show?
Agricultural law experts Wilkin Chapman’s agricultural property partner James Lloyd and senior solicitor Amy Slocombe Smith work closely with the area’s rural community.
Here, as the popular 2019 show season gets under way, they reveal a range of priorities identified by landowners, farmers and fellow professionals affecting the industry now, and in the future.
Flooding and water damage is a major issue for agricultural businesses, with those in floodplains and coastal areas particularly vulnerable.
This issue was highlighted by NFU vice-president Stuart Roberts at his speech at a show last month. At the time he called for the nation to be much bolder in its approach to water to protect rural land from extreme weather patterns;
Feeding urban populations
Rising urban populations mean higher demand for locally grown food, requiring innovative solutions.
Further suggestions at last month’s show included vertical farming, with ‘a neighbourhood veg growing tower’ featuring vegetables for sale grown on each floor and making use of roof space for more rooftop gardens;
Wind farms and solar power are already being embraced by farming communities seeking to benefit from the shift towards renewable energy.
An expansion of current diversification including solar power, ground-source heating, eco businesses, carbon capture and organic materials being used for energy production is likely to be on the horizon;
Local food for local people
Recent years have seen a growth in demand for locally sourced produce.
The view amongst some is that ‘small is sustainable’, with consumers’ seeking full traceability of produce with the distance between farm and fork being reduced;
They may sound like they belong in the distant future, but robotics and drones will increasingly change the face of traditional agricultural methods;
Failing to plan for the future can hold farms and businesses back. Succession planning – laying the groundwork for what’s ahead – is seen as vital as the sector looks to secure a future for the next generation;
Reform of agricultural tenancies
Earlier this month saw the end of the public consultation period on planned changes to agricultural tenancies. If implemented, it will signal a reform of the present agricultural tenancy law.
Both James Lloyd and Amy Slocombe Smith will be at Driffield Show, where they expect to discuss a broad range of issues affecting farming businesses today and in the future.
Amy said: “As the country faces uncertain times, then so does the agricultural sector.
“It will be very interesting to continue our conversations with guests and clients as we continue to help and support a rural community which arguably faces some of the biggest change in recent history.”
Wilkin Chapman LLP is the largest law firm in East Yorkshire and Lincolnshire providing a wide range of legal services for both businesses and individuals.
The firm has six offices across the region, with solicitors specialising in sectors including Agriculture & Food, Energy & Renewables, Housing & Development and Tourism & Leisure.
From farm to fork, we understand that farming is more than just a job, so whether you are a farmer or a landowner, you need more than just a lawyer.
For more information, visit www.wilkinchapman.co.uk