Tag Archive: rural grants

Seminar: Unlocking Potential with George F. White and The NFU

Our Northumberland team is collaborating with NFU North East to update farmers, landowners and rural business owners on the many ways of unlocking potential in their business.

medium image - Ship fields landscape v2


We will be covering:
  • Minerals – what lies beneath your feet? (Mike Young)
  • Succession and releasing the next generation (Louis Fell)
  • A summary of Robert Moore’s Nuffield Scholarship (Robert Moore)
  • Planning update – are you realising your development opportunities? (Craig Ross)
  • Rural grants – what is available right now? (David Hume)

  • Wednesday 14th March 2018
  • Morpeth Rugby Club
  • 17.30 arrival (18.00 presentation)
  • Pie and pea supper provided

Please reserve your place by calling: 01904 451 550.

Brexit, Rural Grants and Business Resilience

It is clear now that there is a significant change in farm subsidies on the horizon in regards to Brexit and for many it could be substantially reduced. This is worrying for our industry as the Basic Payment Scheme and Environmental Grants account for a large percentage of turnover in many farming businesses.  Also, the industry will face further challenges from volatile markets to a shortage of farm labour, which has already, in many businesses, increased cost.

It is absolutely vital that farmers understand the financial performance of their businesses and ensure that they’re stable enough to weather the Brexit storm. The good news is that farmers have the next three or four years to do this and make certain they are flexible and resilient enough to manage these difficult times.

Over the past 12 months we have steered our advice, talks and seminars around the importance of business resilience in uncertain times and we are thrilled to present to you The Farm Road Show with George F. White. We will be hosting a series of seminars across the North in order to identify the pressures on farming businesses and give insight into what we are seeing across the sector.


We will be highlighting:
  • Common themes
  • What farmers should be doing in preparation for Brexit
  • How to access Rural Grants

This is an excellent opportunity for you to understand the current state of the farming industry as well as meeting our team and receiving expert advice in regards to your next step.

We will be hosting at various venues and dates in February:
Booking a space

If you would like to join us please get in touch with Charlotte Bryden or call 0191 605 3489 by Monday 12th February.

Please specify which venue you would like to attend and the number of place required.

Is your cash flow prepared to weather the storm?

So, we have an economy growing and general business and development beginning to pick up, but from a farming perspective things on the whole aren’t a pretty picture as has been broadcast over the press in the past few weeks. I would say that yields on arable crops, so far, look good and indeed I’ve heard of some astonishing barley yields, but then talk turns to price and the gloom sets in.

The farming community has to contend with many wide ranging factors that impact on the business bottom line, be that weather across the globe, exchange rates or foreign policy. UK agriculture is feeling the pressure of the weak Euro, not only impacting on Basic Payment Scheme payments but as clearly seen in the lamb trade, it is affecting our exports. At £20/head less than last year, a 500 ewe flock results in £17-£20k less income, the cost of a living wage. We are still feeling the effects of the sanctions on Russia; it is clearly forcing produce that would go east to stay in our markets and the summer of discontent in agriculture is not just limited to the UK, but across Europe. The French are just better at protesting and causing chaos and properly getting their voice heard.

Yes there is always the supply and demand factor and at present, for example with milk, lamb and cereals, global supplies are on the high and demand low or not keeping up with increased output globally. That simply leads to price pressure. Of course it is not aided by supermarket price wars and clearly the influence of Aldi and Lidl in the marketplace looks like the farmer is paying the price; but I think we also have to realise that perhaps we are producing too much and need to work on increasing consumption and promoting UK farming better. We are too disjointed and need to work together much better as, for example, our Kiwi counterparts have learnt to their advantage since the mid 80’s. We need strong leadership and direction, and I’m sorry to say that I can’t see that either been driven by our government (because we don’t really have an agricultural ministry) or by the industry as its too busy competing internally for market share.

Across our firm, we have great concerns about cash flows for our farming clients; some will weather the storm due to diversified enterprises but for many we fear that the poor exchange rate, reduction in subsidies and stewardships, along with low commodity prices will mean many will run out of cash to operate. The banks are well aware of this situation and where businesses have a good grip on cash flow and approach the lenders in a positive way, the banks are being very supportive. So we would just stress how important getting your figures together now is going to be for the next 12 months. My advice is to be prepared; you’ll be surprised with the support that you’ll be given in these challenging times.

Countryside Stewardship Scheme: What Next and Will it Work for You?

Following the launch of the new Countryside Stewardship scheme, Natural England has called for Mid-Tier applications. Countryside Stewardship (CS) is an amalgamation of what was previously in place: Environmental Stewardship (ELS), English Woodland Grant Scheme (EWGS) and Catchment Sensitive Farming (CSF) and the window to apply this year closes on Wednesday 30th September.

Commenting on the scheme and its significance to the rural sector, Claire Bainbridge, Rural Chartered Surveyor at George F. White, said “It’s been a rather slow affair as, even at this late stage not all the information is available or known, which makes it very difficult to promote and advise but there are some fundamentals that landowners and farmers need to be aware of. For example, in order to apply you need to be registered with the Rural Payments, (if you applied for the Basic Payment Scheme you will already be registered). However, unlike ELS, CS Mid-Tier is competitive, therefore if your application doesn’t give enough environmental merit it may not be successful. ELS was a whole farm scheme and for each hectare, you received a flat payment. Mid-Tier is a parcel based scheme, and any options applied have a set payment rate. Applicants must make sure that any previous environmental stewardship agreement has finished before 2016, before submitting an application. Anyone wishing to apply for any element of the scheme needs to be aware that there is a one application per year rule, so if you’re applying for a capital grant and Mid-Tier, you would need to apply at the same time.”

The scheme has been designed to ensure that applications suit the environmental needs of the location – applications that do not match the priorities set for the area are unlikely to score high enough to be successful. For those wishing to see at a glance what they can do on their holding and how much they will get paid, it’s not so straightforward. It is impossible to say what options are a priority and available, and see how much a scheme will pay at a glance, as every application will be different and the money available is dependent on the options chosen and a successful application.

Claire continued: “A successful application will have chosen options that suit the farm and match the priority statement for the local area. The country has been split into different targeting areas, with detailed priority maps for each. The North East, for example, has 15 different priority maps. Applicants need to download the Priority Map for their area and then open and apply the various layers to see whether different priorities are High, Medium or Low for your farm.”

“If options are high priority for your area, they score higher, with further weighting given to your score by having options endorsed by a Catchment Sensitive Farming Officer, or by being in a “hotspot” or entering into the Wild Pollinator and Farm Wildlife Package. This score is then assessed on whether it gives value for money and the total cost of the agreement. If you are in the uplands, especially with Moorland, applicants need to be aware that there are no specific moorland options, so careful consideration is required when choosing options to ensure success and replace much needed ELS and UELS monies. The final score is then ranked against other applications. The greater the score, the better chance of success.”

If you are considering applying for Countryside Stewardship this year and would like to discuss any element of the scheme, please contact Claire Bainbridge at George F. White on clairebainbridge@georgefwhite.co.uk (07870 644946) or David Hume on davidhume@georgefwhite.co.uk (07739 321588).