Unusual livestock, festivals, glamping, nature education - so many ways to add value to your farming business
The current uncertainty over the future of UK agriculture, in particular over the nature of future trade deals and support payments after Brexit, as well as fluctuating commodity prices, increases pressure on farmers and landowners to find alternative sources of income to support their businesses.
Diversification that requires minimum capital investment by making the most of existing assets, and where the personal skills and interests of the landowner tend to be most successful. There are opportunities for diversifications to crossover and benefit one another, for those seeking to offer that little extra.
Glamping In the current atmosphere of Covid-19 we have seen a dramatic change to foreign travel and the long-term effects on demand remain unknown. While foreign holidays remain uncertain, we can expect to see a strong demand for domestic holidays.
Shepherd’s huts or yurts can be used to provide all the romance of camping, with some of the comforts of home, without the need for an electricity supply. Promoting a policy of buying local where produce isn’t already available on the farm also helps ensure high quality offerings while benefitting other rural businesses.
Nature Education Many farms already have a wealth of environmental features, some of which have been encouraged and enhanced through environmental stewardship schemes, which in turn attract a wide variety of wildlife. These areas provide fantastic opportunities for learning and visiting school groups can provide a welcome boost to farm income.
Unusual Livestock For farmers with breeding in their blood, but who are struggling in the current market, diversifying into alternative livestock feels like a natural choice to utilise existing skills and interests. Llamas and alpacas serve various purposes, including good (and demanded) wool production, guard animals for flocks of sheep or goats, and increasingly as trekking companions who will happily carry your picnic while you take in the scenery.
More accessible to most, however, is the humble chicken. Rare breed chickens with interesting features or coloured eggs command a premium price as pets, where prolific egg laying is of less importance than to the commercial farmer.
Festivals Festivals can take many forms and should tap into the existing features of a farm and the interests of those involved in organising it. Music festivals usually spring to mind first, but what if you are more interested in arts & crafts, beer, outdoor survival…… or fairies?!
This form of diversification is usually limited to a single weekend in the year which minimises disruption to normal farming activities, although requires good preparation.
Adding Value Manufacturing raw farm produce can dramatically add value. Think processing milk into cheese or ice-cream, an on-farm butchery, producing natural wool insulation products or knitting quality throws from your alpaca wool!
Planning policy is generally supportive of rural diversification and tourism, which in turn support the rural economy. If you are interested in discussing your plans for diversifying and would like advice on obtaining the relevant consents please contact Robyn Harper at Symonds & Sampson 01258 472244 or our Rural Professionals in your nearest office.