As we face a constant stream of news, focusing mainly on the COVID-19 pandemic, it is sometimes difficult to separate the negative headlines from positive trends. The Agriculture industry is one of the most important industries affected by constant changes and challenges caused by COVID-19. However, it has also brought about new opportunities.
Food is the one item at the top of everyone’s list and, in many cases, it has been their only ‘essential’ reason for travelling. Before the outbreak, agriculture was already facing several changes due to the Agriculture Bill. This bill aims to shift the focus from the Basic Payment Scheme (BPS) and, instead, provide an area-based payment to all farmers to fund the improvement of the environment in new, innovative ways with a focus being on ‘public money for public goods’. Food security is more prevalent now than it has been since the Second World War and it is a good time for those in the agricultural industry to focus on domestic production and getting results.
What Steps Are Being Taken?
The sudden closure of coffee shops and catering services has caused a fall in demand for produce such as milk, meat and potatoes. It has also meant that there is shortage of workers to pick fruit and vegetables.
Steps are being taken to address these issues. England’s dairy farmers will now be able to access up to £10,000 each to help them to overcome the impact of the coronavirus outbreak. Furthermore, the Government has launched a ‘Pick for Britain’ campaign, run by DEFRA, encouraging British people to take up jobs on farms ‘to help bring the harvest home’. Over 30,000 people have also volunteered to help farmers, following a “Feed the Nation” campaign run by three UK agricultural labour providers.
This temporary change in the demand for food may also give rise to several opportunities. Reports of farms providing food delivery and click and collect services, as well as dairy farmers selling milk direct to the public have been increasing.
How We Can Help
SAS Daniels continues to act for farmers who may be struggling during this critical time. We’re receiving a number of enquiries from farmers who are still in the process of buying land for production, farmers with concerns over contracts with food suppliers, and ongoing requests for help with employment issues.
Now, more than ever, is the time to ensure that farmers have their business arrangements correctly structured and documented with appropriate Wills, powers of attorney and tax planning in place.