Policy

Farmers ‘hopeful’ ahead of Brexit process

Farmers have been told to “make hay while the sun shines” as the UK prepares to leave the European Union.

Audiences in Lincolnshire heard from a host of speakers under the banner “Planning Ahead” at two events in Greetham and Woodhall Spa.

Peter Kendall, chairman of the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board, highlighted international trade, agricultural policy, migrant labour and regulations as causes for concern.

It was important that farming remained integral in politicians’ minds, he said.

Sir Peter said: “Agriculture is always the last thing to be decided upon as it is so important.

“In the meantime, there is what we could term as a honeymoon period and there are plenty of opportunities to be had before some guaranteed payments from the EU end in 2020.

“There’s time to take advantage and grow while the market remains open and free.”

Sir Peter said it was still important to look ahead – to advances such as automation and robotics.

“The rise in population and a growing middle class are great opportunities for the sector – the middle class in particular have more disposable income and have specialist and more demanding tastes.”

Benjamin Bodart, co-founder of CRM AgriCommodities, gave the audiences his analysis of the wheat market in the UK compared to the rest of the world.

The weak currency had meant a hike in prices since summer 2016, he said.

But there needed to be a major event such as drought or environmental shifts, for prices to remain high, suggested Mr Bodart.

The events were organised by farm business consultants Brown & Co and accountants Duncan & Toplis.

Duncan & Toplis tax specialist Matt Herd spoke highlighted new rules coming into effect concerning farmhouses and the nil rate band that applies to inheritance tax.

From April 2017, the main residence of a farm would be considered on top of this band. This could have implications for those thinking about succession, said Mr Herd.

“Now is the time for those considering putting succession plans in place to make that change.

“With so many aspects to consider, we would urge clients existing and new to come and talk to us about making plans and what options are available.”

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