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New positive mood in farming

16:40 25 July 2014

David Missen

David Missen

Archant

The results of a new survey show farmers in East Anglia are looking to the future with optimism and planning for growth.

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The positive findings - described as “fantastic” by Norfolk NFU advisor Alex Dinsdale - are contained in the The Agricultural Insight Survey conducted by MHA, a UK wide group of accountants, including Larking Gowen in the East.

It takes into account the views of over 200 farmers surveyed at agricultural shows in Peterborough and Cambridge.

Its key findings are that optimism is high with 69pc expecting growth and that 51pc are planning to increase their acreage.

The only negative highlighted is that farmers are becoming increasingly concerned about succession planning.

David Missen, Larking Gowen’s agricultural partner, said: “The optimism the survey shows is slightly at odds with the recent falls in cereals prices. The key figure for farmers is price multiplied by yield and we would hope the yield for the 2014 harvest will be exceptionally good.

“I am sure farmers like the satisfaction of growing a very high quality and plentiful crop, and that may cover some of the disappointment if the price they receive per ton is lower than they would have hoped.

“It is also encouraging to see over half our respondents are looking to expand. However, the availability of the right land at the right price is likely to be a barrier as little land is actually coming onto the market.”

The survey shows more than half of the respondents were worried about the future of their business expressing concern about succession planning.

Mr Missen said: “In farming more than just about any other business you need to take a long term view and this includes handing it on to the next generation.

“Planning for this as far ahead as possible is important and professional advice is essential to do this in the most practical and tax efficient way. Pleasingly the survey said 54pc would make their accountant their first point of call when making important decisions.”

Mr Dinsdale said it was “fantastic” that farmers were declaring optimism at a time when prices had dropped and input prices remained high.

“From the regulation point of view there is certainly also concern about the implications of the new CAP regime from January and there are details we are waiting for,” he said.

However, it was great to see optimism coming back into the industry after a number of difficult years partly caused by the weather.

He said: “We are seeing real interest from young people to come into farming; its image is changing, perceptions are changing.

“There is growing demand to study agriculture at Easton College and food and farming are higher up the political agenda than for years.”

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