Farming is changing fast, and there are challenging times ahead. Defra’s Future Farming Resilience Fund (FFRF) aims to help farmers survive and ultimately thrive in these uncertain times.
The fund provides organisations with grants so they can offer free business advice to farmers and land managers dealing with changes in the agricultural industry. The final phase of the programme, backed by £32M of support, aims to reach 32,000 farmers.
In a recent webinar, we spoke to Josh Brock, an agri-business consultant with ADAS, about the importance of seizing this opportunity. Below are some of the insights he provided.
Highlighting the need for change
The BPS has long been central to farming success in England.
“Lowland grazing farms have an average income of £15,500, and BPS accounts for £14,500 of that.
“If you’re talking about an LFA grazing livestock farm, the average income is £22,300 and of that, BPS accounts for £20,000,” Josh explains.
“The agriculture transition means the end of BPS as we know it, so by 2028 that subsidy will be gone.”
Josh points out that now is the perfect time to seek outside advice on securing your farm’s future with the FFRF. “Not only can we talk about the agricultural transition, with the demise of BPS, but there are other challenges farmers are facing, with high-interest rates as well as high input costs,” he says. “With this business consultancy, we can talk about adjusting to all these challenges that we are facing.”
Josh explains how looking honestly and openly at a farm’s finances is necessary. “The money in your account – that profit or deficit – is what’s going to be corroded by BPS reduction,” he says. “Sitting down with farmers and providing an analysis of their current farm business is powerful. It also paints a picture of what to aim towards so you can begin to mitigate that loss of BPS.”
Josh says the process also gives you a chance to develop a long-term business plan, or to explore farm succession. “You can start planning your business to account for whatever’s going to happen.”
Identifying opportunities for profit using the FFRF
By conducting a full farm review, ADAS can identify where a farm business may find new streams of income or an opportunity to increase profits. That might be through anything from increasing lambing percentages through to diversification.
There is also the opportunity to earn an income through Defra’s environmental land management schemes. “The thing with the ELMs is, it’s public money for public good,” Josh says. “Delivering on clean air, clean water, soil erosion, flood mitigation – that’s what it’s trying to gear you up towards.”
The ELMs include the Sustainable Farming Incentive, which involves reducing inorganic fertiliser and pesticide use, carbon sequestration, and improving biodiversity, water and air quality. The other schemes are Local Nature Recovery, a successor to Countryside Stewardship, and Landscape Recovery. Many farmers could reap rewards for practices they already use.
Farmers also stand to benefit from Defra’s Animal Health and Welfare Pathway. The program lets farmers access free veterinary advice, which can lower chemical costs and lead to a healthier – and more profitable – herd.
Use tech with the FFRF
“I don’t think there’s ever been a more important time to ‘measure to manage’, utilising all these tools we have at our fingertips. AgriWebb is a great example of that, especially if you’re linking it with EID and weigh scales because you understand where you’re making your money and have the ability to track that,” Josh says.
“I went to see an AgriWebb user the other day for this FFRF, and she’s been punching her feed costs and things like that into AgriWebb, and she has been able to analyse her financial data on her beef herd.
“She was able to see that instead of holding animals for 18 months, she could make the same money from selling that beast at 12 months old, without putting that extra time and food into it.”
Josh also points to Xero accounting software as a useful tool: “That works well alongside AgriWebb and will give you a constant live outlook on your business instead of getting tax accounts, which are always six months out of date.”
Taking the next step
There is a range of services that organisations supported by the FFRF can provide. Many offer farm visits, followed up by report recommendations. Others provide workshops, webinars, tours and networking opportunities to help farmers get support from other farmers.
Organisations backed by the FFRF are:
To find out how AgriWebb can help you harness the insights you need to secure you farms future, get in touch for a free trial today.