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Jeremy's Blog 1st October 2021: The World of Farm Advice

This article by Jeremy Moody first appeared in the CAAV e-Briefing of 30th September 2021

There is much discussion now about the need for farmers and landowners to be well advised. The need is clear with the scale of change and challenge for businesses and families:

  • facing the withdrawal of Basic Payment in England and then Wales, with its prospective reduction and revision in Scotland and Northern Ireland.
  • more commercial and changing markets and new technologies
  • the effects of climate change with measures for mitigation and adaptation
  • new Government schemes alongside private money for environmental and nature improvement.

This prospect has driven the CAAV’s Future Skills programme with its work on business review, environmental resources, new technology and future land uses geared to supporting members to support their clients facing new pressures.

There are parallels with the advent of farm renewables a decade ago. Members then learnt the new technical issues, understood the opportunities and risks, found values, developed heads of terms and advised clients. While now facing a much larger and more varied task, this is the same business of advising clients about decisions with a rounded view of the effects they may have on the business with its concerns and priorities. This is client-focussed advice, to help the client, reporting to the client and accountable to the client.

With 2024 critical for both, DEFRA and the Welsh Government are expressly looking for advisers to be ready for England’s new schemes and the wider Welsh reviews of business and environmental sustainability.

People from many backgrounds are looking at this work but not all can offer that fully rounded client-focused view. The risk is of mission-based advice, driving a message with consequences that might not be foreseen.

However, the decisions will not be made by policies but by individuals, pre-occupied with today’s issues, who will want to see how answers work for them. Whether for energy efficiency or climate change, some things will be costly and disruptive. Albeit lesser issues, people accepted natural gas and double glazing as helpful to them, not for their virtue. Valuers understand the many immediate concerns and constraints of businesses for whom steps must be practical and put in language relevant to them.

The work may be advising on biodiversity gain, a new scheme, a private financial deal or simply helping a business navigate economic, generational and enterprise changes. Honing skills in understanding businesses, improving ecological literacy and bringing the insights and ability to help clients through these shoals will put members in good stead.

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