Making a living from farming is not easy. According to the Scottish Government, agriculture in Scotland is dependent on farm subsidies with over 60% of farms making a loss without them. The average farm business loss from agricultural activities is £14,600. For sheep (and beef) farmers in Less Favoured Areas, however, these losses are more acute with the average farm making a loss of £27,400 without support.
With Brexit, the future of rural payments is uncertain. Robin Dandie, Agricultural Business Advisory partner with Johnson Carmichael, is advising farmers to review what percentage of their income is from subsidy, and how low these subsidies could drop for their farm still to be viable and financial commitments met.
Clearly, now is the time to diversify. Whether by growing cash crops for human consumption, starting up a new side-line business, or pursuing funding for planting trees and restoring ecosystems, it’s time to take our financial future into our own hands. The Scottish Government reports that farms that diversify beyond traditional agricultural practices have, on average, incomes around £19,600 a year higher than farms that don’t. That’s quite an incentive.