As the Government enters negotiations on the UK’s future relationship with Europe, Pam Johns, Partner and Head of Rural Services at Coodes Solicitors, considers what farmers can do to prepare for the challenges and opportunities ahead.
Brexit is certainly going to be challenging for farmers, but there will undoubtedly be opportunities. With the basic payment scheme set to end in 2020, we will see lower subsidies, but possibly new incentives coming in. The movement of people is clearly an issue for agriculture. Many South West farms rely on seasonal workers: from growers and pickers to cleaners for those farms that have diversified into holiday lets. Britain has an excellent reputation for quality, with schemes like Red Tractor and Farm Assurance. It remains uncertain what schemes and regulations will change and standards could get tougher.
While we don’t know what trade agreement we will end up with, our produce stands up to scrutiny and demand will still be there from overseas. We may also see food producers following Rodda’s example and forging stronger links with local farms.
Now is the ideal time for farms to take a good, hard look at their business models. With a good handle on how the business is structured and run, farms will be better placed to adapt to the changing environment.
Do you have a partnership agreement in place? This legally binding contract sets out the terms on which the partners wish to carry out the business and is essential for protecting your assets. Do you have a succession plan and an up to date Will, setting out the farm’s future?
Planning in the face of uncertainty is difficult but having a robust business model is the best way for farms to ensure they are fit to meet the challenges and take advantage of the opportunities of Brexit.
Pam Johns is a Partner and Head of Rural Services at Coodes Solicitors and a Fellow of the Agricultural Law Association. For advice on any aspect of agricultural law, contact Pam Johns on 01409 253425 or email@example.com