Serving the Farming Industry across East Anglia for 35 Years
Only one third of farmers are taking action to replace lost income as annual direct payments continue to be phased out, suggests a survey. Farmers urged to sign up for free business advice

• Find ways to replace lost income

• Diversification among top choices

• Succession plans for many farms

Only one third of farmers are taking action to replace lost income as annual direct payments continue to be phased out, suggests a survey.

Some 86% of farmers recognise they must make significant changes within the next five years, according to research by consultants Brown & Co, who are helping to deliver £32m of advice under Defra’s Future Farming Resilience Fund (FFRF).

Within that number, 48% plan to diversify or increase productivity, while 25% plan to leave the sector. But only one in three are already making some changes – with environmental schemes a logical starting point for many.

The FFRF was established to offer free consultancy advice to businesses in the transition away from the Basic Payment Scheme (BPS). Farmers can access advice worth £32m from now until March 2025.

Free offer

Brown & Co recently hosted a series of webinars designed to provide farmers with an overview of the FFRF – and to help them understand how they can make use of the free advice on offer.

The consultancy has already delivered one-to-one on-farm support to more than 1,400 farmers – with many hundreds more through remote and digital engagements, says Brown & Co agricultural business consultant Greg Beeton.

Considerable restructuring has been identified with 80% of farmers planning succession or family changes within seven years, he says. “This aligns with the age profile of the project farmers, with 32% of the farmers we worked with over 65 years old.

Some 73% of farmers say they have enough information to plan change. “This has resulted in 80% of farmers now identifying diversification or change opportunities but only a third are taking any action yet.”

Tenanted land

Some 52% of respondents had tenanted land, either as full tenants or a mix of owned and tenanted land. But both tenants and livestock farmers face challenges as the BPS is removed and new markets and income streams develop.

“BPS represents on average 11% of turnover across all farm types but 68% of profits,’’ he says. Livestock and crops constitute 66% of income with the remaining third coming from diversified enterprises, BPS and environmental schemes.

To meet farmers specific needs, Brown & Co has scaled up its advice to provide a wider range of support. “In this phase we will deliver to 2,875 farmers across all of England starting from now up until March 2025,’’ says Mr Beeton.

“We will continue to offer our business review and follow up. These face-to-face on farm meetings will allow for discussion with farmers and families on how to prepare for and adjust to the agricultural transition period.’’

Following that meeting, each farm advisor will complete and share a report with an action plan and benchmark outputs. They will then follow up remotely with clients to support and encourage a focus on the plan.