"Farmageddon" warning to take action as "triple-whammy" looms

A Borders-based rural business expert has warned that up to half of farmers could see their profits wiped out within three years unless they take action soon.

Monday, 25th October 2021, 3:48 pm
Victoria Ivinson, pictured with her baby son Wilfred on the family's farm in Cumbria.

Victoria Ivinson, head of the agricultural team with local tax and accountancy firm Douglas Home & Co, has urged under-pressure farmers to seek immediate help to weather a subsidy shake-up that’s likely to herald the start of big changes to modern farming.

With subsidy cuts at the forefront of a cash, labour and environmental triple-whammy, Victoria, whose husband is a beef and sheep farmer in Penrith, says farmers cannot afford to stick their heads in the sand.

She said: “For many farmers, these subsidy payments prop up the business.

“Our estimate is that at least 50% of farmers could see their profit wiped out. While most may break even, many will be running at a loss once the subsidies are cut. That is a horrifying prospect.

“At the moment, this money is essential to help them smooth out the challenges posed by major weather events, fluctuations in yields and grain prices and many other unpredictable variables.”

Victoria added: “We are entering a decade of massive change across farming and the rural economy. Brexit, climate change and major labour shortages are already causing sleepless nights.

“Yet subsidy cuts are an even bigger threat to survival, particularly for those with no other income stream or alternative financial support. Frankly, some farmers are terrified.”

However, the Douglas Home team has drawn up a three-step plan to help farmers make the difficult decisions needed for survival.

Step one sees Douglas Home & Co’s agricultural team helping farmers understand their numbers, like labour costs and profit and loss across different aspects of the business.

Step two involves carefully assessing ways for struggling farms to bridge the income gap.

However, step three is the most crucial part, as the team can help farmers discuss how to adapt particular enterprises so they are more profitable, or can suggest proactive diversification opportunities which will broaden the number of income streams to the business.

Worried farmers can sign up for an initial consultation with Victoria and her team by visiting https://www.douglashomeandco.co.uk/agriculture/ or by phoning 01573 225082.

Victoria added: “It can be challenging to change long standing farming practices, particularly for those who are passionate about traditional methods. In some cases, farmers may need to move away from old enterprises and embrace a new farming mix. However, this ability to adapt and change can help a business survive during such uncertain times.

“Starting now is vital, because this is just the tip of the iceberg. We are in the midst of a climate emergency which means more Government regulation is coming. Acting now could help farmers reduce the sting for years, if not decades to come.”

Douglas Home & Co was founded and remains headquartered in the Scottish Borders where it has four offices, with further bases in Edinburgh, East Lothian, Cumbria and Northumberland.