The last decade has seen a tremendous change in rural life and in particular for the farmer. The market place we have all been used to has been swept away and the enterprises that provided the backbone for many farming businesses are no longer viable. Change is therefore inevitable and whilst this can be frightening it can also bring optimism, stimulation and perhaps more importantly, profit.
The term diversification is generally used for the setting up of alternative enterprises which require the basic assets that are widely available on farms, i.e. land, buildings, knowledge of animal or crop husbandry, remote locations and a willingness by the farmers to put in long hours! In general diversification should not be used as a last ditch attempt to stay in business as it requires careful planning, capital, enthusiasm and a period of time to prove itself. The list of successful diversification enterprises is constantly growing, with more farms relying on direct sales to the public, added value products, alternative livestock and crops, or even inviting the public onto the farm for theme parks or play areas based on the farming theme.
Whilst not all enterprises are successful, we have witnessed many dyed-in-the-wool farmers who have successfully moved into exciting projects so that, by running a combination of diverse businesses on their holding, a satisfactory living can been made. Traditionally, diversification has been associated with owner/occupiers, but more enlightened landlords are now allowing tenants to consider alternative options as well. Within every farmstead and within every farm business opportunities do exist, and with grants now available and local planning authorities adopting a more enlightened stance, all possible options should be considered.
Some notable diversification enterprises include Christmas trees, barn conversions, herbs, wild boar, adventure games, clay pigeon shooting, livery stables, riding schools, trekking holidays, bed & breakfast, caravans, holiday cottages, golf courses, water bottling, theme parks, vintage car stores and light industrial units, tourist attractions and forestry.
Symonds & Sampson LLP can assist with:
- Assessment of diversification proposals
- Submission of planning applications to local authorities