Uncertainty Fuels Negative Impact on Farmers’ Outlook

Britain’s farmers are generally feeling less optimistic about the future than they did in 2016, according to a survey conducted by MHA, the UK-wide group of accountancy and business advisory firms.

The survey, undertaken at Cereals 2017, is based on interviews with over 100 farmers from across the country.


  • Pricing is less of an issue than in 2016 but concerns relating to cashflow are on the increase

  • Succession planning remains of concern to over half (52%) of all those interviewed – reinforcing the need for action to be taken

  • 42% of those interviewed knew nothing about the Government’s “Making Tax Digital” initiative

David Missen, head of the MHA Agriculture Group

David Missen

Over the longer term, the optimism outlook has steadily reduced, dropping from 70% - 49% - excepting a positivity “blip” at Lamma 2017 which was attributed to the fall in sterling post Brexit pushing up the price of agricultural produce. Concerns about pricing was slightly less of an issue this year (down from 44% in 2016 to 33%), but cashflow remains a problem for 32% of visitors.

For the first time we asked if visitors had heard about “Making Tax Digital” and worryingly the results showed that 42% had not – which was particularly disconcerting as at that time the commencement date for MTD was 2018 – although implementation has since been pushed back to 2020.

Concerns relating to Succession Planning remain the same as in previous years, which can only indicate that inheritance problems are being stored up with little or no preventative action being taken by the current generation.

David Missen, head of the MHA Agriculture Group, commented:
“It looks very much as if uncertainties over Brexit and the economic position generally are starting to have an impact on farmers' optimism for the future, despite the fact that commodity prices are higher than they were a year ago.

The next few years could see some seismic changes in the industry as the whole future of support mechanisms is reviewed. Every business should be looking at succession, cash flow and efficiency with this in mind and fortunately the survey indicates that many are now doing just that. "


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