As farmers look for more ways to boost their income, we take a look at a handful of diversification options you should consider.
Landowners should be looking at their farms as a string of assets, rather than as a whole, when looking to diversify their income, according to Andy Jamieson, North Associates associate director.
He says farmers often concentrate on the part of the business which interests them most when there could be a better opportunity for investment.
“I have not really come across a farm which does not have something it could be doing."
Here’s 10 ways you could choose to diversify on your farm...
Traditional tourism ventures on farms have focused on holiday cottages and farm shops, but many have looked to make use of their farm’s unique characteristics in more innovative ways.
Tourism-based diversification has grant funding available through the Rural Development Programme for England’s growth programme.
Grants are locally led and have local priorities which differ throughout the country.
Any diversification should be based on the key, unique attributes of the farm or individuals involved in the business, not tailored simply to secure funding available.
Craft beer is going from strength to strength. The number of microbreweries in the UK has increased from 1,218 in 2012 to more than 2,000 this year – a level not seen since 1930.
To meet this demand, the UK hop area has also grown, up 8 per cent in 2016 to 942 hectares (2,328 acres) and another 4 per cent in 2017 to 980ha (2,422 acres).
This trend has also been reflected in the USA and Germany – the world’s two largest hop growers – leading to a 6 per cent increase in the global acreage in 2017.
Often, beers may be labelled as brewed and bottled in the UK, but the chance of that beer using domestic hops is fairly small. So, is there room in the market for new entrants? Read more...
Bouquets and brides go hand-in-hand – but whoever thought barns and brides would ever be a winning combination?
However, with statistics showing that only about 27 per cent of couples now choose a church or religious building for their wedding ceremony, the lure of an alternative venue in the countryside is becoming increasingly popular.
And for farming families looking to diversify, the prospect of moving into the on-farm wedding market is one not to be ignored, explains wedding venue business consultant Kelly Chandler. Read more...
Various technologies have been adopted on UK farms in the past few years which have primarily linked tariff rates and the income which can be generated as a result.
But recent changes to tariff rates and increased energy costs have led landowners to increasingly look at ‘behind the meter’ opportunities.
These opportunities are linked to on-farm energy requirements and offer favourable savings and returns over fixed periods. They require reduced investment while still being linked to tariff rates.
Often, forestry is the forgotten asset on the farm. However, biomass heating systems and multi-fuel household stoves have helped market demand.
These markets utilise lower value forestry products, increasing utilised timber and decreasing waste from felling operations.
Favourable Government grant schemes for felling and replanting offer woodland owners chance to make positive returns on their assets and bring woodland back into productivity.
Softwood saw logs average £44.19/cu.metre in the six months to September 2016, representing a 13.6 per cent increase on the year.
UK domestic timber production has increased by 1.19 million cu.m over the last 10 years, with construction remaining the largest market.
A small dairy farm is making quite a statement with the supply of their fresh, quality milk across the city of Sheffield.
Our Cow Molly bottles invite customers to visit the 81-hectare (200-acre farm), which is open four days a week and every day during school holidays. A hard standing provides parking for 40 cars and buses from Sheffield stop at the gate every hour.
“In summer we have up to five staff working there,” Eddie adds.
“On a sunny day we have hundreds of people. They will queue for half an hour.”
The family started making ice cream in June 2007, investing £80,000 in a room and equipment. Over 10 years they have added more rooms, a walk-in freezer and the ice cream parlour.
More and more farmers are setting up so-called ‘glamping’ sites, but overcoming planning issues is essential to success.
Glamping – or glamorous camping – is increasingly popular among people who want to experience the great outdoors while avoiding the rigours of traditional camping.
Instead of sleeping in tents and cooking outside, glampers want comfortable beds, quality cooking facilities and hot water on tap. They may well also require features such as a log-burning stove and decking as part of their countryside experience.
Why it’s vital to address planning requirements
This opens up potentially lucrative opportunities for farm diversification, although considerable forethought is necessary – and planning consent is a necessity.
Local and neighbourhood development plans will affect your proposals, so it is important to engage with the local planning authority at an early stage and be open when dealing with members of your community. Read more here...
Most farms will have unwanted items hanging around that now serve no purpose.
If the farm has been in the same family for a long time and the size of the infrastructure has increased, old buildings often become dumping grounds for artefacts from the past.
But the rise in ’shabby chic’ decor in recent years means these implements are being given a new lease of life as decorative items for homes, gardens and also gastropubs across the country.
Farmers Guardian went along to a recent ’rural bygones’ sale at Silverwoods Auctioneers, Lancashire, and found an array of items suitable for those with a keen eye for design and which could make buyer and seller very happy. Read all about it here...
One farm which has embraced a handful of diversification ideas is Old Holly Farm in Lancashire.
The family run, working organic dairy farm includes an indoor soft play area, a traditional stone courtyard café serving homemade food, local ice cream in the farm shop, and a petting area where visitors can meet/feed their traditional farm animals.
Note: Try and find more exotic livestock which could draw in the visitors!
The farm also hosts children’s parties, educational trips and hold special events throughout the year.
Visit their website at oldhollyfarm.com for more...
Developing and selling land can provide an appealing prospect for landowners who wish to realise a capital receipt or pay for an alternative venture.
When considering either pursuing a planning application or disposing of land for development, it is essential to understand what lies ahead.
A considered holistic approach is required to review physical constraints, planning policy context, legal considerations and tax implications.
How a planning application and subsequent development is financed is a key decision for the landowner.
Where landowners decide not to seek a planning permission, a development partnership can be entered by means of an option or promotion agreement.
To maximise potential of valuable assets, landowners need to take strategic property advice early, especially when the net result is disposal, as farmers will only get one chance to get it right.
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