County Durham land agents and chartered surveyors Vickers & Barrass is stepping up the support and expertise available to agricultural businesses across the North of England during the coronavirus pandemic.
Farms have been identified as essential businesses during the current crisis, expected to deliver the food needed to feed the nation. However, in doing so, many farm managers and owners face unprecedented difficulties in managing their businesses effectively, according to Vickers & Barrass.
While the official advice is that farms must continue to operate during the pandemic, Adam Barrass, chartered surveyor and practice manager at Vickers & Barrass’ Tow Law office, said this is not easy for rural businesses and many need additional levels of support and guidance at this time.
He said that it’s business as usual for the firm with new investment to support rural clients through the crisis, and added: “We will continue to monitor the advice Government is providing, interpreting this on behalf of our rural clients and working hard to ensure that they get the level of support needed during this critical phase.
“I have numerous enquires from clients asking if there is any financial support both during this pandemic and beyond especially with Basic Payment Scheme receipts scheduled to reduce over the coming years.
“So, we are making the necessary investments now, during this difficult time for everyone, to help further. This includes boosting our agricultural operations with a new farm business consultant to extend the range of services we can offer to clients.”
The move will see additional resource and focus available to steer agricultural businesses forward with long-term strategic support, financial advice, budget planning and information about new business development and commercial opportunities in the post-coronavirus landscape.
The additional expertise comes as Vickers & Barrass moves the Crook office this summer to premises at the new Darlington Farmers Auction Mart’s site as part of expansion plans and improvements to its services.
It’s evident that the restrictions are also having an impact across all parts of the wider rural economy.
Agricultural businesses that have diversified into retail, hospitality and leisure among other sectors could be facing some really tough challenges and difficult choices as customers cancel bookings or delay their UK holiday plans.
However, the cut in interest rates to an all-time low could be seen as a welcome opportunity, holding down the cost of borrowing for diversification projects and pumping cash into the economy.
Adam Barrass said: “The record low cost of borrowing, along with tax breaks which are unavailable to other industries, could also help to drive growth. Both will help to fuel the agricultural sector’s entrepreneurial spirit as it looks afresh at diversification strategies in a post COVID 19 business landscape to broaden future farming activities”.