Focus on what you can control

With the outcome of Brexit still far from certain, many farm businesses have little clear idea of what they could – or should – be doing to prepare.

The latest edition of the Farm Management Handbook, which is now available free online, encourages farmers to focus on the things within their own control.

Looking at the farm business in this light reveals a number of actions and areas where some outside help would be beneficial.

The Scottish Government has recently announced up to £1,000 for specialist support and advice to help farm businesses review and develop a resilience plan.

There are also a number of no-regret actions farm businesses can take to prepare for a No Deal. The Farm Management Handbook can help you with both of these.

Produced by SAC Consulting, part of Scotland’s Rural College (SRUC), with the support of the Scottish Government’s Farm Advisory Service (FAS), the book details positive steps farmers can take to bring control to an uncertain situation.

The 40th edition of the Farm Management Handbook contains up-to-date crop and livestock enterprise data and financial figures. Additional information includes advice on vegetable crop margins, forage crops, speciality grains, pulses and farm diversification such as eco-tourism, on-farm gyms, vending machines and farm shops.

Following changes in the details of Rural Aid and Renewable Energy Schemes, updated guidance has also been provided.

Julian Bell, Senior Consultant at SAC Consulting, said: “Farmers face the risk that a No-Deal Brexit or a Deal that is very different from our current EU membership could be upon us soon. The priority for farmers is to think about how their business would fare in such a situation and how the timing of this would impact on their business.

“Do you, for example, have a forward cashflow budget in place that you can monitor month-by-month to react to events as they unfold? If not, the handbook can provide forward enterprise margins as a baseline. If you need help to prepare, monitor and manage this then do so now.”

Farmers should also consider whether there any critical inputs that could readily be bought sooner rather than later, such as feeds, chemicals, animal health products and machinery spares.

Julian added: “Are there any livestock or crop sales scheduled for that time at risk of disruption that could be moved forward or back? Can changes be made to the enterprise mix to lessen risks? How will any steps taken affect margins and cashflow? The handbook provides baseline enterprise data to prepare partial and forward budgets to assess changes in the timing and mix of farm enterprise.

“In such uncertain times, all businesses will benefit from forward planning of enterprise mix, budgets, business structures and cash flows. The latest edition of the Farm Management Handbook is a comprehensive source of information which allows Scottish farmers to take control of what they can.”

The FAS-supported online version of the Farm Management Handbook is available for free here. A printed version will be available soon from SAC Consulting for £28 plus posting and packaging. To order a copy or to find out more, visit or call the Rural Business Unit on 0131 603 7525.

To find out more about FAS, visit

Posted by SRUC on 14/10/2019

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