Around 80% of farmers pressurised into new revenues amid tough conditions

Around 80% of farmers have said that tough market conditions have pressurised them into considering alternative revenue streams, according to new research.

Farmers across the UK have sought to diversify from traditional arable, diary or livestock farming to use their land in different ways to boost their income.

Research commissioned by Investec Wealth and Investment and The Game Fair highlighted the continued challenges facing those working in the agricultural sector.

Interviews of 100 freehold farmers found that all surveyed are trying farming alternatives in order to boost their incomes.

This included 80 of the farmers, who said they have felt pressured into diversifying due to current market dynamics in the agricultural sector.

Farms have been impacted by higher cost inflation, pressure from retailers and other clients to keep prices low and labour shortages in recent years.

Over half of farmers, 54%, said their farm’s income increased over the past two years because of other income streams.

Scott Jones, divisional director for southern offices at Investec Wealth & Investment, said: “The pressure of rising costs on their balance sheets is just one of several challenging external factors facing farmers at the moment.

“While this is resulting in some having to increase their debt levels, our survey shows that a large majority are making the most of the government subsidies and grants that are available to them.

“It’s also very positive to see farmers getting the help they might need to access these, in order to benefit from the support, they provide.”

Two-thirds of farmers said they were increasing biodiversity through increased tree planting or carbon capture.

Other popular new revenue streams included appearing at farmers markets or opening up to the tourism industry, such as with holiday cottages or glamping facilities.

Mr Jones said: “Many feel that they are being led to these new enterprises because of the current market dynamics, but that they are also proving to be economically attractive.

“There doesn’t appear to be a one-size-fits-all approach to diversification with farmers showing their entrepreneurial spirit to try out a whole host of new ways to use their land, from carbon capture to glamping, making new products or even contract farming with local supply chains.”

James Gower, managing director of The Game Fair, said: “The findings from the research highlight key factors affecting the farming community which is an important part of the future of our countryside.

“Our partnership with Investec Wealth & Investment is at the heart of our drive to create the perfect opportunity at The Game Fair for farmers to come together to share values, discuss the latest topics and find solutions to the challenges they face.”