The owner of a family-run farm located on the Suffolk /Norfolk borders came to Anglia Rural Consultants (ARC) to help identify a way forward and plan the farming business in a post Brexit era.
ARC identified at their Autumn Conference 20181 that the recipe for future well-balanced businesses should:
❏ Attain 30% of their turnover from non-farming enterprises
❏ Benchmark overheads & understand the cost of production
❏ Have a stable well-skilled workforce with good machinery
During the initial meeting with the client the following information was shared with ARC:
❏ The farm is a mixed farm totalling 690 has (approx. 1500 acres). It is arable with a small beef herd, bought in, reared and fattened and sold directly to supermarkets.
❏ The farm is within a Higher-Level Stewardship Agreement that is due to finish in 2022. There are approximately 1ha of small woodland copses located around the farm- which are undermanaged. The farm has a number of footpaths crossing through it.
❏ It has both modern and traditional ranges of buildings that are within the curtilage of the farmhouse. There are no cottages with the farm- having been sold off twenty years ago.
❏ The farm is owned and runs as a partnership between father and son and employs 1FTE to support the livestock and peak arable periods. The farm has HP loans and farms with a working overdraft.
❏ The farm is within 15 miles of Norwich and 30 miles to the East Coast.
ARC post the meeting reviewed the opportunities that present themselves to the client.
A thorough analysis was made to ascertain the location of the farm in relation to key market centres, local demographics and access links( road and rail) and local planning policies and visions.
The assets on the farm were assessed and their potential for being used for new uses – including woodland, reuse of traditional farming buildings and adding value to the beef produced.
A high-level financial analysis was carried out to identify opportunities for further finance to be accessed.
The results from the analysis were summarized in a SWOT analysis. The analysis identified key routes to pursue.
The results were presented to the Client as a report with recommendations.
ARC met with the client and discussed the report and recommendations. It was agreed they would pursue and identify the feasibility of adding value to their beef herd by converting one of the traditional farm buildings to a farm shop and cutting room.
ARC pulled together a team of consultants to deliver the business strategy – appointing one consultant as the overall project lead and drafter of the report.
The Client provided our Financial Adviser with financial data and business accounts that enabled a full analysis the farm business and opportunities to increase borrowings or attract grants.
Further detailed discussions were held with the Local Authority’s economic development officer and planning officers; an architect was identified to develop plans to submit for a planning application for change of use of the buildings.
The initial report carried out some analysis as to demographics and location. The ARC team took this further and provided a more focused analysis of market need and demand for a farm shop and locally produced beef products; they reviewed competition and price in local shops and developed and undertook a questionnaire both online and face to face to identify demand. Discussions were held with local restaurants and pubs.
The team identified an abattoir local to the farm who would take the beasts and return the carcases for butchery to the farm. A cost analysis was developed to ensure the potential supply chain would be economically viable.
ARC produced a high-level marketing strategy for the proposed enterprise that included online presence as well as radio and media promotional opportunities.
The farm is in a Higher Level Stewardship scheme. ARC provided an environmental impact assessment promoting the positivity of reducing food miles whilst supporting wildlife conservation regime, maintaining and enhancing the local landscape and promoting access and understanding of the countryside.
The Client and his son had not any previous skills in selling direct to the public; however, a driving force behind the project was the wife of the client’s son. Training needs were identified as were the requirements for staffing in the butchery and farm shop. All needs were costed.
The final report brought together all the analysis and provided a budget to move forward with the development alongside a project plan. A projected cash flow was included with the final report.
ARC met with the client to discuss the analysis of the work and identified a route map to begin the diversification project.