Brexit and Covid-19 lead to farm changes

The combination of Brexit and Covid-19 has led to a change in the outlook of farmers and crofters in Scotland.

The shift in thinking was picked up by SAC Consulting, part of SRUC, following the completion of more than 6,000 IACS forms (the integrated administration and control system which manages payments to farmers) during the 2020 claims period.

Oban-based consultant Rob Black said the realisation the Basic Payment System will end, and inevitable changes in farm support, has led landowners and managers to explore how to become more stable, efficient and competitive.

He said: “What I’ve been hearing from a number of my clients is that Covid-19 and Brexit are the shocks they needed to plan how their businesses can stand on their own two feet in the future.

“Conversations have focused on changing things that people are unhappy with, for example agreements where the tenant feels their rent doesn’t reflect the risk they are bearing.

“Many of these changes are small, but for the people implementing them, they are bold and represent a move away from the traditions and norms within their families, which takes great courage.”

Changes include increasing the number of end markets, selling direct and planning for succession.

“It’s been really heartening to feel our team has been there to help people talk through their options and develop a viable plan,” said Rob.

“What’s been critical for all those who are planning a different future is that they have started the conversation with us and those near and dear to them; that is a really tough thing to do.”

Niall Campbell, SAC Consulting’s regional manager for north-west Scotland, said: “For some businesses, the pandemic has almost completely passed them by. For others, the loss of diversified income from tourism has been dramatic and it has made the IACS claim even more important than usual.

“Support payments can equate to over 75 per cent of the income of farms and crofts in the north-west region, so it was essential we responded to lockdown immediately to ensure all of our consultants could run their IACS client meetings online and from their homes.

“It took 61 days to process 6,241 claims which was a huge undertaking, but we made it work and got all of the claims in on time.”

Posted by SRUC on 28/09/2020

Tags: Brexit, Rural Business, SAC Consulting
Categories: Natural Economy | Consulting and Commercial