As a new entrant looking to get started in the agricultural industry there are often many barriers in your way. Obtaining sufficient working capital, finding land with ‘affordable’ rents and accessing a market for your produce are just a few. If you are lucky enough to get started and make a career out of farming, some years later you may well be faced with the opposite problem; succession and the best way to get out of farming.
It has long been suggested that a new approach to these sorts of issues is needed for UK agriculture, and whilst this article is suggesting nothing new as such, it may provide an alternative way of thinking and highlight some of the resources that are available to help.
The Land Partnership Service is offered by the Fresh Start Land Enterprise Centre (FSLEC). It is essentially a matching service for those with land or capital available who are unsure what to do with it, and those that are full of good rural business ideas and itching to get into the industry, but need the land or finance to do this (www.freshstartlandenterprise.org.uk).
The service uses a series of processes to match compatible parties, and then offers practical advice regarding how to structure a working relationship between them on an ongoing basis. The initiative focuses on both parties working together for mutual gain (both financial and personal/social), and can direct them towards traditional Farm Business Tenancies, contract farming agreements, grazing licencses, share farming agreements or anything else that better suits the individuals involved. These contracts don’t necessarily have to involve huge parcels of land and long terms, with 10 acres often enough to get things started.
Whilst these types of farming partnerships may not be common in the UK, they have been successful for many years in other parts of the world. The FSLEC provides a template for looking at different strategies for people at all stages of their farming career, and may be able to help your business get started or move in a new direction.
As always any strategic business changes must be thoroughly planned and tested before being put into practice. Thomas Westcott have a wealth of experience working with different farm business structures and are more than happy to discuss different opportunities that may arise with you.
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