How will Brexit affect beef and lamb prices? What will be the impact of Brexit on the value of land? When will we know more about the level of support payments farmers can expect in the long term?
These are just some of the questions been asked by farmers across Nidderdale AONB as they try to make long term plans for their farm businesses in the wake of Brexit.
A grant from the Princes Countryside Fund to the Friends of Nidderdale AONB (a registered charity) has recently been awarded to provide free business and environmental advice for farmers in the area to help them tackle these questions.
Farming is vitally important in Nidderdale. It has helped create the special landscape qualities that underpin its status as an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) and it remains the mainstay of both its rural communities and the rural economy.
It has never been easy to make a living from farming in the area however, and successive reports have shown that despite great skill, sheer hard work and determination many farm businesses in the AONB are barely profitable. Growing uncertainty about the years following Brexit is placing an extra burden on farmers.
The AONB has commissioned the Rural Business Research Unit at Askham Bryan College and an Upper Wharfedale farmer and business management adviser to support development of the business plans. Marian Wilby, the AONB’s Land Management Team Leader, will work with them to assess the potential for farms to qualify for agri-environment payments after the UK leaves the EU. The programme will provide farmers with:
A fresh independent, confidential review of the current farm business;
An opportunity to better understand how to plan for the current & future Brexit uncertainties;
Access to a simple, personal and immediate on-farm business reviewing process;
An environmental assessment to review the effect of a more environmental approach on the farm business by linking it with the financial review.
Heather Garnett, Chair of the AONB Friends Committee said:
“Having done my stint as a Nidderdale farmer in the past, I know just how hard things can be. With an uncertain future ahead, an opportunity to take stock and review plans for the farm alongside expert advisers is very timely. The Friends are very grateful to the Princes Countryside Fund for their support”
Andrew Hattan, an Upper Nidderdale farmer said:
“This is perfect timing. We can’t afford to stick our heads in the sand and hope things will turn out alright. There are big changes on the horizon and we need to be ready for them by making our businesses as resilient as we can so they are able to withstand the impact and take advantage of new opportunities when they arise”
AONB farmers are being invited to apply for a place on the programme, which will get underway from September. Further details are available from Marian Wilby (07713 333187 or firstname.lastname@example.org.)