According to a new major survey from the National Innovation Centre for Rural Enterprise (NICRE), many farm businesses in England may struggle to cope with the challenges of new agricultural policies and the withdrawal of the Basic Payment Scheme, given that the majority do not engage in formal business planning or seek external professional advice. More than six out of 10 farms surveyed in the North East, South West and West Midlands regions said they did not have a formal written business plan, while almost 80 per cent had not accessed external support from any advisory service. In the policy shake-up following the UK’s exit from the European Union, regulations and red tape were the most commonly-cited obstacles to farm business success with 71 per cent of farms identifying them as a key concern, compared to less than half of other rural businesses.

The survey is the third in a series of ‘State of Rural Enterprise’ Reports from NICRE. It indicates that farms’ experiences of the pandemic differed considerably to that of non-farm businesses. This reflects the different context and nature of farming, where changes in agricultural policy and markets dominated the trading situation, by comparison to the more limited impacts of the pandemic.