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Diversifying as post-brexit insurance for farmers

To build a healthy, profitable business within agriculture is becoming increasingly difficult due to the uncertainties brought along by Brexit. The decision to leave the EU has created an unstable environment for rural businesses, who are currently unaware of the future of any trade opportunities outside the UK. 

David and Janet Disney faced a similar period of instability when the value of their livestock dropped by almost half overnight due to the loss of a crucial business contract with Sainsbury’s. This caused them to rethink their operations and figure out an alternative way of generating more revenue to be able to keep up with their mortgage payments and save their farm.

They approached a variety of people for advice, but it was a specialist land agent named Philip Kerr who gave them the lucrative solution.

The Disney’s consequently set up a successful business renting office space by converting the Jersey Farm buildings previously used for pig production into what is now Swallow Court, a fully dedicated set of corporate buildings to rent.

To this day, ten different companies are based at Swallow Court, who in total rent 18 offices on the converted farm.

The Disney’s overcame a difficult time for pig farmers by thinking outside the box and adapting to the changes in the industry. 

“At that time, as a farmer, I was performing well but we had certainly not planned ahead for such scenario. Our best asset was the traditional farm buildings sited right next to the M5. Research showed market demand for office space in this location,” said David Disney.

“I had a terrible situation to deal with in the late 1990s. It was a very difficult time and, as a farmer, I felt an awful loss of pride.”

“Brexit is going to throw some other farmers into the same scenario.” 

Nobody knows exactly how Brexit will affect the agricultural industry. The National Sheep Association (NSA) suggest increasing your revenue streams to help ensure the sustainability of your farm.

“I do think it could also be quite exciting, farmers will have to find ways to target production, discover their own markets and then have an influence over them. But it will be difficult.”

Source: Somerset County Gazette

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