Tag Archive: agriculture

Tim Michie: Rural Partner Appointment

George F. White has appointed a new Partner in a strategic move to bolster their rural professional services. Tim Michie, who joined the firm as an APC Rural Graduate from the Royal Agricultural University in 2011, has been appointed as Partner; leading the rural professional team in Northumberland and the Borders as well as Land and Farm Agency across all offices and regions.

Tim Michie

Congratulating Tim on his appointment, George White, Founder and Senior Partner at the firm, said: “The sheer hard work and determination Tim has demonstrated since joining the firm in 2011 as a graduate is phenomenal. Not only has he succeeded in his professional work, but has made it his business to support the professional and personal development of others, creating a strong and highly motivated group of individuals as well as advocating our brand ethos, ‘people are at the centre of everything we do’. I have taken great pleasure in mentoring Tim over the years and he has become a great friend. Tim is one of a kind in the way he conducts such strong relationships with clients and the community and I am sure they, alongside the rest of the business, will share my confidence and admiration for him in his new role.”

Tim Michie has specialist knowledge of the traditional rural sector, however, is well versed in the political landscape and the opportunities that surround UK agriculture; he works alongside RICS commercial surveyors, RTPI planners as well technical consultants to ensure that his clients receive sound advice on managing and developing their assets.

Speaking about his new role, Tim said: “My appointment as Partner is testament to the support that I have received throughout my post-graduate studies and professional development from George F. White. I hope to continue this people-focused culture with the young people and graduates that are currently coming through the business. I am, of course, over the moon and I am looking forward to building upon the service that George founded with the business 40 years ago. It is an uncertain time for UK agriculture, however, as an industry, we remain strong and I will be focusing on ensuring our clients are exploring the opportunities that are available to them now and, alongside our farm team, preparing their businesses for opportunities that will arise in the future.”

Great Yorkshire Show 2019 Roundup

Great Yorkshire Show is over for another year, and as expected, it did not disappoint! Thank you to everybody that took the time to see us on our stand and around the showground, as well as those that attended our annual drinks reception and debate.

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Our annual Great Yorkshire Show debate has become popular with farmers up and down the country, something that we are extremely proud of as we continue to encourage farmers and farming businesses to share their experiences and views with their peers, advising and supporting each other through a period of uncertainty.

It was always inevitable that the way agriculture in the UK is currently subsidised would undergo some kind of reform regardless of whether direct support is phased out over the next five, ten or twenty years. Without doubt, the agricultural industry is about to see the biggest policy revolution in a generation and we must adapt and face the challenges head on. Elliot Taylor, who leads the Farm Business Consultancy team in County Durham at George F. White discusses why.

“Currently, 62.3% of Farm Business Income or profit in Yorkshire and Humber is from subsidies (2017/18 Farm Business Survey) and we anticipate that these direct payments are going to reduce significantly from 2021 according to the proposed Agricultural Bill. Rather than dwell on this, farmers must to work together, discuss and share best practice and review their business performance as soon as possible to ensure they can continue to be successful.

On Wednesday, Simon Britton, Partner and Head of Farm Business Consultancy at George F. White, hosted a discussion panel at the Great Yorkshire Show. The purpose was to encourage farmers to share their experiences and offer their thoughts on how to prepare for the changes Brexit will inevitably have on the industry; whilst deliberating the current and future opportunities available for safeguarding their future in relation to farming without subsidy, and the impact it may have on land values and rent.

Managing Partner Robyn Peat, Partner and Rural Practice Surveyor Tim Michie and myself were joined by Fred Ryle and Kevin Craggs, both arable and livestock farmers, and Mark Exelby, a mixed organic farmer, making up the discussion panel. We discussed in depth the future of the agricultural industry from our differing perspectives and experience as well as answering some excellent questions from the audience.

One panel member suggested that we would not actually see UK agriculture without some kind of subsidy support in the future. He also believed that we should leave the European Union on 31st October with no deal and enter a 12-month period of adjustment. He also said a pro farming government was vital to help introduce a fair replacement to direct support. Discussion also focused on the proposed Environmental Land Management Scheme (ELMs) and the aim of paying public money for public goods.

The panel agreed that the public must continue to support British farmers, utilising home-grown produce rather than relying so heavily on imported goods. The panel also agreed that farmers must receive a fair price for their produce and not have to compete within imported products, in particular, red meat from areas such as South America that may not have the same high standards of animal welfare as we have in the UK.

Despite some different opinions on the fate of UK agriculture, it was unanimously agreed, that farmers must have a sound understanding of their business and focus on the management practises that will help make them top performers in their sector.  The panel also expressed that we must be prepared to support each other during uncertain times and use education to promote the high standards of British farming in our schools.

This week’s announcement of a possible delay to Michael Gove’s plan to abolish subsidy payments, due to the continued uncertainty over the UK’s exit from the EU, is just another example of why farmers must start now to get their businesses ready for change. The first step to take is to understand how reliant your business is on direct support payments whilst exploring the opportunities to become more efficient and profitable. We can see from the previously mentioned statistics that the majority of farms are hugely reliant on subsides but we at George F. White believe that with careful business planning and adopting the right strategy the impact the removal of agricultural support payments will have can be reduced.”

Again, thank you to all that visited us over the three days at Great Yorkshire Show, we will look forward to seeing you again soon!

Great Yorkshire Show 2019

Great Yorkshire Show is taking place on 9th – 11th July in Harrogate… and we can’t wait!

As always, we invite you to join us on our stand throughout the event to enjoy refreshments and meet the team. This year, we’ll be celebrating our 40th anniversary so make sure you don’t miss any of the action.

Schedule of Events

Tuesday 9th July
17.00 – Annual Drinks and Canapé Reception (George F. White, Stand 202)

Wednesday 10th July
14.00 – Join the Debate: Farming Without Subsidies, An Opportunity not a Threat (George F. White, Stand 202)

Great Yorkshire Show

The impact of the impending Agricultural Bill is a key theme at this year’s Great Yorkshire Show. We are now certain of the future for subsidies, and regardless of whether they are phased out in the next five, ten or twenty years, the agricultural landscape is changing and we need to adapt as an industry. Currently, 62.3% of Farm Business Profit in Yorkshire and Humber is made up of subsidy (2017/18 Farm Business Survey); we encourage landowners and Farmers to join our debate to understand, discuss and deliberate the current and future opportunities for safeguarding their future in relation to profit without subsidy, land values and rent.

We’ll be covering:
• How change will affect future profit, rent and land values;
• How to react to these changes and embrace opportunities;
• Preparing a business to make those opportunities available in the first instance;

Our panel will explain why their expert viewpoints differ due to the nature of their work within the farming sector, allowing you to make an informed decision as to how to take your business forward.

Talking ahead of the Great Yorkshire Show, Simon Britton, Partner at George F. White, said: “This time last year, we were in a position where we didn’t know what would happen to our farm subsidies; now the Agricultural Bill has been released, we know that subsidies are going to diminish in the next seven to nine years. Rather than dwell on this, we need to work together, discuss and share knowledge in order to review our businesses and ensure they can survive financial when they time comes. Interestingly, The Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board (AHDB) named ‘knowledge sharing’ as one of the characteristics of the top performing 25% of farms in the UK. The changes that are coming will significantly impact farm businesses, however, the purpose of our debate, and the main aim of our farm consultancy team moving forwards, is not to scare people but to prepare our client’s businesses for the impact of the changes that will face us, as an industry, over the next few years.”

The debate will take place on our stand (202) at 2pm on Wednesday 10th July. Attendees are encouraged to get involved in the debate, asking questions and providing opinions on the opportunities that will be available to us in the next few years and the steps one must take in order to have those opportunities available to them, inevitably safeguarding their future.

Simon added: “Opportunities are available now and will continue to be available in the future to those that have truly analysed and understand their business; ultimately, we’ll be discussing what your businesses profitability will look like without subsidy and the affect that will have on rent and land value should you waste this period of adjustment to ready your business.”


Public Goods: How are you going to future proof your farming business?

We have all now had an opportunity to read and process Michael Gove’s proposal for the future of agricultural support payments, public money for public goods… James Thompson, Graduate Surveyor at George F. White, discusses what it all actually means and the decisions that farmers must make to maintain profitability.

Firstly, what are public goods?

By definition, a public good is a ‘non-excludable and non-competitive’ good. A common example, used outside of agriculture, is street lighting. Having street lighting is not competitive nor is it excludable to a single consumer; when I consume that good, it doesn’t stop anyone else from consuming it at the same time.

Public Goods

DEFRA will be looking to fund the public goods under the following categories:

  1. Enhancing the environment
  2. Farming in remote areas and rural resilience
  3. Public access to countryside
  4. Improving the productivity and competitiveness of farming
  5. Animal and plant health and animal welfare

The proposed Agricultural Bill, which will shape the UK’s future Agricultural Policy, indicates that, the current Basic Payment Scheme (BPS) will be phased out and replaced by the above funding streams. It is therefore imperative that, individual businesses establish how exposed they are to the loss of the farm subsidies. As an example, according to The Farm Business Survey, the average farming business in the North East makes £71/ac profit.  This is includes £97/ac support from BPS and Ag Environmental Schemes. Farming business need to build business resilience over the transition period, reducing their reliance on support payments and understanding how best to access “public money for public goods”.

Exploring the options

Based on the five categories of funding for public goods, there is a decision to me made; a focus on delivering actual public goods (categories one to three) or in improving efficiency and competitiveness of agri-products (categories three and four).

Firstly, let’s focus delivering actual public goods. We state that these are ‘actual’ public goods as they are truly non excludable or competitive; we all enjoy the British countryside, whether that be breathing in the fresh air or enjoying family walks and activities in the outdoors.

It is likely that the replacement of current environmental schemes could be highly geared towards protecting soil, improving water quality or even the management of carbon; this could result in more productive land being withdrawn from food production enterprises. It is also entirely possible that funding for open access to the countryside (unavailable in previous environmental schemes) could be reinstated into the new Environmental Land Management schemes (ELM’s) and could be lucrative.

Secondly, you may choose to focus on improving efficiency and competitiveness, for example, improving animal health and welfare or reducing nitrogen and chemical use. In addition to this, with an aim to increase competitiveness of farm businesses, the government has already committed £30 million to the Countryside Productivity Small Grants scheme with emphasis to increase opportunities that high tech and precision farming equipment can deliver. We expect the next round of this scheme to be launched next spring and it is suggested a number of new options will be available to farmers.

There are crucial decisions to be made, but that will be entirely dependent on your business health and its financial exposure to current support payment, resulting in the magnitude of change required to provide a resilient future income to you and your family. That being said, and having conducted research on this topic, many farm businesses in the North East and Yorkshire believe that the best way to safeguard against a decrease in subsidy payments is to improve business efficiency, learn from top performing farms and explore new income streams including diversification.

I will leave you with a question to ponder: Having defined and discussed public goods – does food security constitute as a public good? Consequently, should food production be supported by government funding?

If you would like to understand in more detail how exposed your farming business is to the ceasing of direct subsidy’s payments, then contact your local Farm Consultanct: