Farming future under spotlight

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The opportunities and threats facing Northumberland’s farming economy in a post-Brexit world was a key topic of discussion at a seminar attended by local farmers, landowners and rural professionals.

The breakfast seminar was hosted jointly by property specialists Savills and accountants Greave West & Ayre in Berwick, and was chaired by John Coats of GW&A.

Giles Hanglin, head of Savills Rural Research, discussed the impact of Brexit on food and farming.

He said diversification was an increasing trend, with many farmers moving away from traditional agriculture, with an increased level of income now coming from commercial enterprises like holiday lets and renewables.

He said: “In 2000, 49 per cent of rural estate income derived from agriculture, but this has now reduced to 37 per cent, and 43 per cent now comes from residential income.

“There will inevitably be opportunities that arise for those best prepared post 2020. My message to farmers is to start looking at their businesses now in order to identify opportunities to thrive post-reform.”

Rural agency expert John Coleman, based in Savills’ Wooler office, added that in a challenging market, preparation, planning and pricing of farmland will be key to securing a good sale in the post-Brexit future.