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Rural Business Issues in the Spotlight

Ways in which rural business advisers can help farmers to survive the credit crunch will be discussed at a North East conference next month.

Keith Proudfoot,
regional director of ICAEW.

Keith Proudfoot

Accountants, property experts, lawyers, regional development officials and bank representatives will be offering advice on how rural businesses can overcome the current challenges and make the most of opportunities for diversification.

Organised by the Northern Society of Chartered Accountants and supported by rural practitioner George F White, the event takes place on Tuesday, April 28, at the Close House Hotel, Heddon-on-the-Wall.

Keith Proudfoot, regional director of the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales (ICAEW), said: “While the downturn is now affecting all sectors of the economy, it can be argued that farming has actually been in recession for the past ten years.

“Many farmers are struggling to stay afloat and would be suffering significant losses without the cash they receive from the Single Farm Payment scheme.

“The conference has assembled a group of experts who can advise on a whole range of issues, from alternative land use and tax planning, to the new EC nitrates directive, restricting the spreading and storage of slurry.”

Hugh Fell, George F White managing partner and the UK’s leading expert on rural property prices, said: “With the stock market still going into free-fall and residential and commercial property prices still falling, the one area that still looks solid and reliable is agricultural land.

“However, it is vital to get your head around potential threats to land in the next twenty years - for some this will be floods, while for others it will be droughts with no available water. It is vital that clients are well informed in order to understand the nature of the beast they are facing.

“I believe people will find this conference invaluable in helping them get up to date on what is going on with agricultural land values”.

Rural entrepreneur Ian Brown, a board member of One North East (ONE), will chair the conference.

Among the speakers will be Robert Wharton, farming partner at Dodd & Co, Carlisle, and a national committee member of the ICAEW’s farming and rural business group; Richard Garland, rural practitioner at George F White, and Adrian Sherwood, rural development programme manager at ONE.

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