The challenges and opportunities of diversifying your farm

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By Sarah Jordan, head of rural property and trusted legal adviser to families of landed and farming estates 


Sarah Jordan, author of the challenges and opportunities of diversifying your farmIn recent years, the pace of change within the agricultural sector has accelerated more than at any point since the Second World War, and landowners today face a series of significant challenges when it comes to making a profit.


One of the major roadblocks for farmers is that the Government has reduced the Basic Payment Scheme (BPS) – the European Union’s biggest farming subsidy, administered in the UK by an executive agency of DEFRA – and it will be completely eliminated in three years' time. We are now at a crucial stage where it is predicted that 25% of farmers will be out of business as a result of these changes over the next few years.


Instead of the BPS, the Government has set up a payment scheme for farmers who produce environmental gains on the land. The aim to create environmental benefits is laudable, but it also creates problems for farms whose bread and butter is food production.


So what are agricultural landowners doing to make a profit? Some examples are below.



Viticulture, or the cultivation of grapevines, has been dubbed the fastest-growing agricultural sector in the UK. 


Family days out

Branching out into events and experiences is proving successful for many farms and estates.


Wedding venues 

The wedding venue market is fiercely competitive and offers another potentially fruitful avenue for rural businesses looking to diversify.


Once you have decided what you want to do with your land, the next steps in taking the leap and diversifying are to check with your local authority whether you require planning permission to enact the necessary changes.


It is highly recommended to work with a group of trusted advisers such as a lawyer, accountant, banker and financial adviser, who can help you to scope and plan effectively, and so turn your vision into reality.


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