Markets & subsidy assurances are starting to have a positive impact on farmers’ outlook

Britain’s farmers are generally feeling more optimistic about the future than they did in 2017, according to a survey conducted by MHA, the UK-wide group of accountancy and business advisory firms.

The survey, undertaken at Cereals 2018, is based on interviews with over 100 farmers from across the country.

Key Findings:

  • Pricing continues to be an issue, but concerns relating to cashflow showed a 10% decrease.
  • Succession planning remains of concern to 50% of all those interviewed – reinforcing the need for action to be taken.
  • 46% of those interviewed knew nothing about the Government’s “Making Tax Digital” initiative.

The general “feel good” factor, identified at Lamma six months previously, continues to make itself felt, with almost 60% feeling that there will be moderate or high growth in their businesses this year. This is slightly lower than the sample taken at Cereals 2017  when the same question showed that 65% were optimistic, but both show the highest level of optimism we have seen since the summer of 2014.

As has been consistent with all the MHA surveys, concerns relating to Succession Planning remain the same as in previous years. This can only indicate that inheritance problems are being stored up with little or no preventative action being taken by the current generation.

“Making Tax Digital” (MTD) continues to be unheard of for 46% of those interviewed – up from 42% in 2017 – which is particularly worrying as the commencement of MTD for VAT registered businesses commences in April 2019.

David Missen, Head of the MHA Agriculture Group, commented: “It looks very much as if uncertainties over Brexit and the economic position generally are starting to have an impact on farmers’ optimism for the future, despite the fact that commodity prices are higher than they were a year ago.

The next few years could see some seismic changes in the industry as the whole future of support mechanisms is reviewed. Every business should be looking at succession, cash flow and efficiency with this in mind and fortunately the survey indicates that many are now doing just that.”

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About The Author

John Swire - Deputy editor of Agronomist and Arable Farmer as well as responsibility for the Agronomist and Arable Farmer and Farm Business websites. After 17 years milking cows on the family farm John started writing about agriculture in 1998 and has since written for a variety of publications and has developed a wide circle of contacts within the industry. When not working John is a season ticket holder at Stoke City and also of late has become a fitness freak, listing cycling, swimming and walking as his exercises of choice. Colin Ley - News reporter