Farmers should seek professional advice to address the opportunities and challenges presented by the new Agriculture Bill, according to the Agricultural Law Association (ALA).
Although farmers are expected to be accountants, entrepreneurs, agronomists, veterinarians, meteorologists, mechanics and land stewards, they don’t have to do it all alone, says Mike Holland, secretary and adviser to the ALA. Instead, they should get ahead of the game and seek professional advice to navigate the changes proposed by the Agriculture Bill.
“Now that the Agriculture Bill is back before parliament, farmers will need to review and set a direction for their businesses,” says Mr Holland. “However, there is no clear-cut strategy to follow and they are mapping uncharted waters.”
Understanding the changes in policy and regulation will be the two key areas farmers will need to navigate over the next seven years, he adds. “Our members are ideally placed to help iron out the kinks in new policy and pass this knowledge back to farmers.”
Moving away from the current subsidy payments to a system of public money for public goods, alongside new international trade rules, any new seasonal workers scheme and changes in the tenanted sector will occur as new legislation is implemented and farmers need to keep up to date on all of these.
“The sector will need to be informed of progress and implement strategic decisions to ensure farms are fit for purpose with future policy in mind,” explains Mr Holland.
“This is why it’s vital to invest in ancillary and advisory services. It’s an area that can so often get shrugged off as an unnecessary expense, but no price can be put on good advice. The role of the adviser is now more important than ever.”