Yorkshire farmers 'need to protect their farms' futures'

A local law firm has urged local farmers to act now to protect their future

The proposed Agricultural Bill has been formulated to replace current European legislation which will affect the way the rural economy is funded,

Continued Brexit uncertainty and the proposed new Agricultural Bill are two factors currently driving land-owners to consider diversification projects in order to protect their farms’ futures.

An NFU Mutual Diversification Report released late last year claims that up to 60 per cent of UK farmers do not have succession plans in place. Of those who have considered alternative ventures in the wake of Brexit and the proposed Bill, projects include renewables, property letting, tourism and farm shops.

The proposed Agricultural Bill has been formulated to replace current European legislation which will affect the way the rural economy is funded, with direct farm subsidy payments set to fall after 2021.

Legal experts from Wilkin Chapman solicitors’ Beverley office emphasise the importance of farmers taking action now.

James Lloyd of Wilkin Chapman explains: “It is important, and now more than ever, that farming families think carefully about where they might go from here into the future.

“Many farming businesses do not have succession plans in place, but farming businesses and families need a clear action plan to ensure they are on a firm footing with which to succeed with any diversification venture and to deal with the challenges and opportunities which are about to arise.”

James’ colleague, fellow agricultural specialist Amy Slocombe Smith is encouraged by the diversification opportunity the proposed new bill offered. Amy said: “Under the proposed new Agriculture Bill, Defra has said that the remaining direct payments during the seven-year transition period will not be dependent on whether the recipient is farming and, with the potential to receive that support in a lump sum, businesses can look to invest in diversification or to fund business restructuring.

“Now is the time for land-owners and farmers to think about their assets, their surroundings, and the procedures that need putting in place. These things take time, so it is as well to talk now to each other and professionals – from the planning stage to execution, even if the latter is only started once the uncertainty of Brexit is resolved.”

Diversification into tourism is top of the NFU report. Corporate and commercial solicitor Sarah Elizabeth Kemp adds: “Diversification from farming to camping, and glamping, is popular. Getting it right doesn’t have to be about an extensive budget – quirky and rustic facilities are popular in this market but guest requirements must be catered for.

“In most cases planning permission will be needed. Specific licences may also be required depending on the type of new business.”

For further details on diversifying and information on the impact of Brexit and the proposed Bill on your business, call: 01482 398398 or visit www.wilkinchapman.co.uk