With a new year under way, H&H Land and Property principal director for Scotland James Murphy looks ahead from his base in Newtown St Boswells.
James, a member of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (MRICS) and a RICS registered valuer, who has worked with farmers and landowners for more than 20 years, said: “The key question farmers and landowners should ask themselves when looking forward to 2017 is can your business withstand the potential effects of volatilities in the agricultural sector and economic uncertainty?
“These are changing times, and although I am extremely excited about the prospects 2017 may bring, I am very sensitive to the many concerns facing the agricultural sector at this time.
“With the uncertainties of Brexit hanging over us, and with the future of farming subsidies an unknown quantity, these really are tentative times for farmers and land owners.
“There are ongoing issues with entitlements, land reform repercussions and, of course, the challenging economic climate.
“In terms of British agricultural policies going forward, no one knows exactly what they are going to look like, let alone what the effect of any of these changes will be.
“In addition to this, there are indications that there will be an increase in inflationary pressure in the economy. Devaluation is helping, but for how long no one knows, and, going forward farmers may start to see the inflationary repercussions kick in, with important products such as fertilisers and fuel all costing more.
“It is also important to remember that changes and uncertainties often bring opportunities so my advice is to use the long evenings to really consider your farming enterprise.
“Do you really understand the value of your assets and their potential? Is there the flexibility to sell all, or a part, for development? What could you do to maximise value? Is there any potential for alternative uses of your property assets, and in which areas of your business can you make efficiencies?”
He added: “Many people are looking at the opportunities of fixed rates advertised by the banking sector to protect their businesses from any likelihood of increased rates.
“In this scenario, banks will ask for valuations to assess risk. Prudent enterprises will have these to hand, using them to help in preliminary discussions. If you do not have these, you should consider having a formal valuation carried out.
“By concentrating on your business in this way you are helping to future-proof it and make it as secure as possible.
“Whatever lies ahead, my advice is to look for the opportunities and let us all hope for a prosperous 2017, and the perfect weather for farming.”
James Murphy and his team have extensive experience in providing rural clients, particularly the farming community, with a range of professional advice relating to their property assets.
H&H Land and Property is one of the H&H group of businesses. It offers the rural community a broad range of services.