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.
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!