The whole country is aware of Brexit, but there is precious little knowledge as to what it actually means for farm businesses. However, with Article 50 officially triggered, 2020 looming and Teresa May’s recent call for an election adding another level of uncertainty, ensuring farm businesses are as resilient and Brexit-proof as possible has never been so important – and this year’s Cereals Event will show you how.
From concerns over trade deals to questions over available chemical treatments, there’s no doubt that Brexit will have a huge impact. While the future is uncertain, what is guaranteed is that there is a unique opportunity ahead. Knowing the best way to manage change – while being prepared for both the best and worst case scenarios – can be difficult. Helping farmers get to the core of the issue, this year’s Cereals Event (14-15 June) is introducing a ‘Brexit-proof your Business’ Knowledge Trail, flagging up the most relevant exhibitors and seminars to visit.
“We’re proud of the fact there’s so much to do at Cereals, but visitors often say it’s hard to see everything they want to in just one day,” says event organiser Jon Day. “This year we’ve introduced Knowledge Trails, to flag up exhibitors relating to a specific theme and show them on a map – allowing visitors to make the most of their Cereals experience.”
As political leaders negotiate the next steps Lloyds Bank will feature on this year’s Knowledge Trail, offering advice to farmers on how to prepare for what is ahead. “Our number one tip is don’t put your head in the sand; think now how Brexit might affect your business,” explains the firm’s Ben Makowiecki. “Particularly look at aspects like commodity prices, subsidy payments, labour and finance costs.”
From a practical perspective, farmers need to budget for the worst-case scenario then consider what steps need to be taken to improve the situation, he adds. “We advise to really think about existing finances: What happens if the base rate increases? It’s also worth considering what debt farmers may need to expand or change their business post-2020.”
The Arable Conference – in association with De Lacy Executive – at this year’s event will play host to two Brexit themed debates. Starting proceedings on the Wednesday (14 June) is a panel session on ‘Brexit, what does the future hold?’ Speakers are set to include the Secretary of State and NFU president Meurig Raymond as well as representatives from the Agricultural Industries Confederation (David Caffall) and Agricultural Engineers Association. Wednesday will also see a practical session at the Arable Conference, looking at how evidence-based production could play a critical role as UK farming builds for a more sustainable future.
The discussions don’t stop there – AHDB will be hosting a series of debates to explore the threats and opportunities facing the arable sector. Among these will be a ‘Are you ready for 2020?’ discussion (12:30, both days), headed up by AHDB lead analyst Jack Watts. He will look at some key resilience-building steps that businesses can take ahead of the UK leaving the EU. The debate will feature alongside a ‘Brexit bucket list’ exhibit to raise awareness of key questions to be considered by farming businesses ahead of Brexit.
“EU market access, import competition in the domestic market, and post-Brexit farm support policy are all key themes for the UK arable industry,” explains Mr Watts. “Given all the uncertainty, businesses may be tempted to take a ‘wait and see’ approach. But there are proactive steps businesses can take to put them on the front foot and in a stronger position to cope with, and even capitalise on, change.”
Other exhibitors featuring on the Knowledge Trail include:
- CLA – looking at the impacts of Brexit and putting support measures in place that landowners, farmers or those working in rural businesses need to manage and protect interests.
- Brown & Co – offering its ‘Fit for the Future’ strategic property and business review service, helping farm businesses adapt to change.
Tickets are now on sale via the website www.cerealsevent.co.uk/tickets and visitors can use the promocode CEREALS17TOS to save over 15% on tickets.