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Farming & Rural Business Community

Future Farm Resilience Fund – still not too late to participate

Author: David Missen

Published: 02 Nov 2022

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What you need to know and how to get involved.

A key part of the “Health and Harmony” consultation (issued in 2018, which now seems a lifetime ago) was that there was a need for farms to make a fundamental “self-appraisal” as part of their survival plan for the new post Brexit/post subsidy regime. As part of this, a funded programme would be set up to enable the process so that any restructuring (or exit from the industry) could be properly planned in advance of the subsidy reductions.

The funding is initially granted to specialist advisers (including most of the leading firms of land agents) who will help businesses:

  • understand the changes that are happening
  • identify how, what and when they may need to adapt their busi-ness models
  • access tailored support to adapt

In practice, this means a free series of one-to-one consultations and workshops designed to extract all the relevant data (both financial and non-financial) followed by a comprehensive report/business plan analysing previous performance, current strengths and weaknesses, options, swot analysis, succession planning and a projected way forward. Whilst many businesses may have something similar, even if only in the proprietor’s head or the back of an envelope, a FFRF report is an extremely valuable medium term planning document – even for those who are entirely comfortable about the future.

And to be clear, the FFRF plan is entirely free of charge, with all the consultant’s costs being covered by DEFRA. The only cost to the business is a few hours of the proprietor’s time. The author of this article put his own small farm through the process earlier this year. It took about a day of his time over a few weeks but probably two or three times that much of the consultant’s time. The end product was a fairly comprehensive and genuinely useful report running to about 20 pages on the business, its history, current viability and future.

The next and final phase of support opened in October, and it will be scaled up. £32 million has been awarded to 17 organisations. According to DEFRA, this will support up to 32,000 farmers and land managers (so putting it another way, and assuming DEFRA have driven a fairly hard bargain with the consultants, an average of £1,000 of free farm consultancy).

*The views expressed are the author's and not ICAEW's.
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