AHDB warns Lincolnshire farmers to “prepare for a no-deal Brexit” at annual farming conference

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L-R: Tom Hindmarch, Duncan & Toplis; Paul Waberski, Brown&Co; Tom Hind, AHDB.

Around 200 farmers and agriculture business experts at an annual farming conference in Lincolnshire have been urged to be aware of the consequences of a no-deal Brexit and to do what they can to prepare for it.

The 2019 Farm Business Update organised by chartered accountants and business advisers Duncan & Toplis and agricultural consultants and land agents Brown&Co saw a range of agricultural businesses meeting at Greetham Valley, near Oakham and the Petwood Hotel, Woodhall Spa on Wednesday 13th February.

Keynote speaker, Chief Strategy Officer of the Agricultural and Horticultural Development Board (AHDB), Tom Hind explained that, with almost a month to go until what is increasingly likely to be a no-deal Brexit, farmers and growers need to take the necessary steps to prepare for wide-ranging negative consequences.

AHDB Chief Strategy Officer Tom Hind said: “With around 40 days to go, there may be very little that farmers and growers can do to prepare for a no-deal scenario but it’s important to be aware of the potential impacts and be alive to the key areas of risk to your businesses.

“Following a no-deal there may be a temporary uplift in prices for some growers and opportunities to displace imports in some sectors. But the main implications are broadly negative and the food  industry as a whole is not well prepared.

“There is likely to  be a degree of disruption from trade friction but tariffs may bring about the biggest impact, particularly for farms and growers that are involved in exporting. The meat sector will be particularly vulnerable, with, for example, export tariffs of 40-50% expected for sheep meat which would inevitably see lower lamb  prices to producers.

“We don’t yet know what the UK will set for import tariffs but we can expect them to be lowered which could allow more foreign produce to enter the market at a lower price. This could also be bad news for farmers and growers so they need to do what they can now to prepare for the consequences of a no-deal on many fronts. It’s really important that farmers don’t sleepwalk into a situation that could seriously affect them.

“I really appreciate the opportunity to speak to so many farmers and growers at the 2019 Farm Business Update which was a really interesting and well attended event as well as a great chance to share advice and support.”

The AHDB’s analysis supports warnings from the National Farmers Union which has warned of “catastrophic consequences” of a no-deal Brexit.

The headline speaker at the previous Farm Business Update in 2018 was NFU President Minette Batters who spoke just days before she was elected as president. At the conference, Minette Batters warned that agriculture risked being “the sacrificial lamb” in Brexit talks unless the farming industry made its case clearly.

Other speakers at this year’s conference included:

  • CEO of Hummingbird Technologies, Keith Norman who demonstrated the potential for drone and satellite imagery and data analytics for decision making and insights into crop health.
  • Director at Duncan & Toplis, Matt Herd who specialises in tax and tax planning. With two months to go until all businesses, including farms over the VAT threshold have to keep their accounts digitally, Matt spoke about the impact that Making Tax Digital will have for agriculture and ways that farming businesses can make the most of out digital services.
  • Chartered Financial Planner with Castlegate Financial Management, Sam Gibson who gave advice on financial planning, investments and pensions advice.
  • And Tom Bridge, Environmental Consultant at Brown&Co updated the conference on the environmental funding schemes that agricultural business can apply for. Tom explained that the next round of applications for the mid-tier stewardship scheme and water capital infrastructure grants opens on February 18th, which could be worth up to £10,000 to businesses over ten years.

The Farm Business Update is held each year at two venues in Lincolnshire and is organised by Duncan & Toplis and Brown&Co which are both based in the county. As well as being a chance for farmers and growers to discuss and learn about the latest developments and opportunities for their business, the event also raises money for good causes. This year, £600 was raised for Forage Aid which supports farmers whose livestock has been affected by an extreme weather.

For farm business and accountancy advice, speak to Duncan & Toplis – visit www.duntop.co.uk/agriculture or call 0808 169 1196. For land matters, speak to Brown&Co – visit www.brown-co.com  or call 01464 502126.