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Farming has bright future with positive attitude to change

Greg Ricketts, head of farm business at GSC Grays, believes there is a positive future ahead for farming businesses as they come to terms with the loss of the Basic Payment Scheme (BPS).

While the removal of BPS is creating challenges for many farm businesses, Greg Ricketts is convinced GSC Grays Farm Business Advice Service reviews funded by DEFRA’s future farming resilience fund, which has already helped nearly 1,000 farmers, can play a key role in mapping out a successful future.

Ricketts, who has over 30 years’ experience in farm business consultancy explained: “I am optimistic about the future of farming because farmers are looking positively at what they can do differently with their farm businesses in a constructive way rather than agonising about what could have been.  Farmers are on a journey and it’s gaining momentum with a more optimistic and opportunist attitude for the future.

“Clients are embracing the need for change and the need for profitability and long term the sector is going to be more robust and see greater profits. We will have a strong industry going forward with perhaps a slightly lower number of active farming businesses.”

Armed with specialist advice, he has already seen farm businesses across the North of England implementing change as part of an overall strategy. “Succession is a big issue which has gone up the agenda list with people starting to think 5,10,15 years ahead and do we hand over the to the next generation now who are also starting to ask the question;” added Ricketts.

“The changes are so big at the moment that if you don’t have a succession plan you would almost wonder why you are farming.  Any business plan should start with a succession plan.  That is not where most people start, but it is a good way of thinking about the future.”

Rachel Hallos, a South Pennine upland beef and sheep farmer received a free FBAS half day business review delivered by GSC Grays on her family farm and said: “As a family we had a discussion around our kitchen table before our review took place about what we wanted the future to be about because its not just me and my husband, it is the future of our children.

“The review has given us confidence that we can actually see a future beyond BPS. The last 12 months has been particularly difficult and we are looking at how we can increase our profitability. Having GSC Grays sitting around the table gave us the options which will help profitability and in a time of change you sometimes need to find that external partner.”

Ricketts explained: “It is important to sit down as a family take a cold hard look at the numbers and use the free Farm Business Advice Service (FBAS) which is available until March 2025.  FBAS has two key elements: a half day review and a Sustainable Farming Incentive (SFI) focused review. It is an overview with a range of follow on business services to look at specialist areas and is very bespoke.

“The business focus review  we offer is aimed at understanding the business from the farmer’s point of view to develop a plan to exploit the opportunities and minimise the threats. What follows on is absolutely fundamental. We are a third party looking in and help with that longer term view and policy.

“The SFI review looks at the options and opportunities which are most appropriate and how does it fit with the farming system. It is a plan to complete an application and get that scheme up and running.”

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Nicolle Hamilton
Marketing & Communications Director

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