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Farming & Rural Business Community

The view from the Chair

Author: Keith Phillips, Chair of the Farming & Rural Business Community advisory group

Published: 13 Apr 2023

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As I begin my first “view from the Chair”, having assumed the mantle of Chair of the Farming & Rural Business Community advisory group in December 2022, the industry is facing significant challenges. Many of you will observe that is not unusual for the industry but, with the huge fluctuations in input and output values, the challenges of the weather and the continued uncertainty of the effect of the Government policy on the support mechanism, these challenges are most definitely significant and very current.

The fact there will be significant changes to the way faming and rural industries conduct business in the future is clear but how these will affect individual rural business and hence the advice we, as members, will need to provide is less certain.

These are the times when the ICAEW Farming & Rural Business Community advisory group can hopefully support our members to appreciate the changing landscape and to try and ensure appropriate views are heard by the policy makers.

The group is constituted with approximately 12 members from around the United Kingdom to bring together the experiences of both practising members and members in industry. We formally meet 4 times a year, currently 2 in-person and 2 via online methods.

I, myself, am in private practice, being a director of a firm of approximately 500 staff in the East Midlands. I run the firm’s office in Sleaford, Lincolnshire. So my day job is very much focused on arable farmers but I do have a significant number of other rural businesses.

The composition of the committee is very varied, ranging from sole practitioners to representatives from national firms. This gives the group as wide a range of views and experiences as possible. The group often try to pull together articles like “It’s different in Scotland or Wales” to ensure that the whole of our membership and our feedback is representative of the whole of the UK.

With the recent abolishment of the subscription by the ICAEW to our Community, our membership numbers have risen significantly and hence our reach, we hope, has extended significantly as well.

At the same time as providing newsletters, webinars, specialist training sessions and organising an annual conference, the group, along with other interested bodies, such as CLA TFA NFU, try to respond to government consultations to help shape the implementation of various government policies or explain issues that will arise if such proposals are implemented. As such we hope to ensure they are fit for purpose and usable in practice.

As a group, we are always looking for representatives of different regions and experience, whether in private practice or industry, and, as such, if you feel you have good experience and are prepared to help your fellow members, then please do let the ICAEW or myself know.

So, on behalf of the whole committee, thank you for supporting the events we’ve put on over the past few months and for your continued support in the future. I hope, as members, you find what the committee provide helpful and informative. Please do read the current newsletter which is made up of articles from across our membership, covering issues and points they have felt relevant to them in recent months, as I am sure many will be relevant to your business as well.

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