Handbook to help farmers weather ‘perfect storm’

The “perfect storm” of Covid-19 and Brexit means it’s more important than ever for farm businesses to consider the economic landscape and think about the changes that might lie ahead.

This is the message from SAC Consulting which, with the support of the Scottish Government’s Farm Advisory Service, has published the 2020-21 Farm Management Handbook.

Available online and in print, the handbook contains up-to-date crop and livestock enterprise data together with updates on specific rules and regulations to help businesses be as prepared as possible in an uncertain climate.

Brexit remains a huge concern to Scotland’s farmers as a trade deal between the UK and the EU has not yet materialised and the 31 December 2020 deadline for negotiating a trade deal is fast approaching.

Editor Alastair Beattie, an Agricultural Consultant at SAC Consulting, said although Scottish agriculture remains resilient, many farmers have struggled as, in some cases, Covid-19 had caused some market outlets for product to disappear “almost overnight”.

He added: “One only needs to look at the dairy sector where the demand for fresh product, such as cream, crashed as the food service sector was hit severely during the lockdown period earlier this year.

“While it is not practical to plan for every eventuality, it is sensible to consider the impact of the most likely events – be it a change to product price or changes to input prices such as fertiliser.”

He continued: “The uncertainties over Brexit and the impact of the pandemic has meant a perfect storm for Scottish agriculture this year. And, with further changes to agricultural policy coming soon, it has never been more important to plan ahead, be open to new ideas, and to ensure that your business remains adaptable to change.

“While fully appreciating that agricultural production systems cannot be switched on or off overnight, now is the time to establish how any new trade deals might impact your business, assess the risks, weigh up the options and plan the way forward.

“If sitting down to prepare a cashflow budget is not your thing, remember that there is support available under the Farm Advisory Service.  Farmers can apply to the FAS to have an accredited adviser draw up an Integrated Land Management Plan (ILMP) – part of which can be geared towards analysing farm business efficiency and budgeting.

“The Farm Management Handbook is the perfect reference point for the most up-to-date figures to help farm businesses prepare for the unexpected.”

A printed version of the Farm Management Handbook will be available soon from SAC Consulting for £28 plus posting and packaging. To order a copy, to find out more or to view the publication free online visit www.sruc.ac.uk/fmh.

Full details of the ILMPs can be found on the FAS website: www.fas.scot/advice-grants/