Free business advice offered to help farmers in the South East with financial planning

With a new cropping season underway, farmers and rural businesses are being urged to apply for free advice to help with budgeting and cashflow forecasting. 

The support can be accessed through the Future Farming Resilience Fund (FFRF) and is available to any farmer registered with the Rural Payments Agency (RPA).

James McFarlane (pictured), consultant in the Savills South East food and farming team, said it has never been more important for farming businesses to keep an eye on cashflow: “While many arable farms may have received good returns from last year’s harvest, this has been partly offset by rising input costs – namely fertiliser – and the continued phasing out of the Basic Payment Scheme.

“Selling forward earlier in the year may well be a saving grace for those who capitalised on wheat prices in the region of £200- 250 per ton. But this typically only accounts for 20-50% of crop sales, highlighting the need for continued financial planning throughout the year. 

“Keeping a clinical eye on cashflow and regularly updating costs within existing budgets enables farmers and rural business managers to make sound strategic decisions.

“The use of breakeven spreadsheets has allowed a number of farms to not only understand the cost of production per ton but also ensure sale prices are considered carefully alongside required profit/returns.”

The FFRF runs until March 2025 and can include everything from assessing new funding streams and new farming techniques to successional changes within the business.

Previous examples of advice have resulted in businesses changing the enterprise mix, adopting Countryside Stewardship or SFI, altering the management structure, identifying diversification opportunities and developing business plans for new investment.

Savills is offering this free advice via the FFRF in partnership with NIAB and AKC. The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) has committed £32 million to provide support to farmers as they move through the agricultural transition away from BPS.

James continued: “We’ve already helped a number of farmers through the FFRF but there is still plenty of time if anyone would like further support. 

“The advice allows businesses to have one-to-one advice via a Farm Business Review and access to online tools, resources and industry expertise to help guide the business into the next phase of agricultural policy.”

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