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In the first six months of 2017, land values dipped, only stabilising towards the end of the year, averaging £8,972 per acre across England and Wales by Q4. Many potential vendors delayed bringing their farms and estates to the market, waiting instead for further clarity on Brexit negotiations and how leaving the EU will impact on the sector.

 

We are only in the first few weeks of 2018 and already there have been some significant developments with key legislative announcements.  On the back of last year’s Clean Growth Strategy, the government has published a 25-year environmental plan, highlighting a new British Agricultural Policy. This is set to include new environmental land and management schemes, new rules on water use by farming, better soil management and use of fertilisers as well as targets to reduce air and water pollution generated from the industry.  The plan covers wildlife habitats, tree plantations, basic principles for development, flood management and a number of other key areas integral to the rural economy. However, despite these ambitions, the plan lacked clarification of how these targets will be met.

 

January also saw the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, Michael Gove, speak at the Oxford Farming Conference. Gove made a welcome commitment to the Basic Payment Scheme continuing until 2024.  Addressing the rapid developments in the sector, currently being driven by environmental imperatives and advancements in technology, he stressed the significant cost of resisting change, “to preserve what we cherish in the countryside we need a more efficient, focussed and innovative approach”.  Setting out four key areas for change, Gove provided a valuable insight into his long term goals for the sector. These include a coherent policy on food; equipping farmers and land managers with adequate training and the tools to adapt to change; an alternative method of providing financial support to farmers, moving away from what he considers to be inefficient subsidies; and building a ‘natural capital’ thinking into our approach to land use and management.

 

Whilst Gove’s comments were broadly welcomed, it is still unclear as to whether Basic Payments will continue at their current levels. He remains committed to a scheme that moves away from the volume of land owned and instead focusses on owners whose businesses are designed to benefit the environment, including planting woodland, returning cultivated land to more natural states and providing services for community benefit.

 

We continue to help prepare our clients for change, identifying the most sustainable and profitable strategies for farm businesses and estates.

This continues to include diversification options and advising on subsidies in the current framework.  Our specialist valuation team has been particularly active with re-financing and succession planning opportunities.

 

The Rural Division of Carter Jonas has continued to expand in 2017, particularly in the south West (increased staff in Marlborough, Taunton and Truro) and also in Birmingham where we have specialist teams advising on major infrastructure projects.

 

In early 2018 Carter Jonas will be running its usual series of Farms and Landed Estates seminars, this year with the theme of “Preparing for Change”.   

 

We will continue to work with key membership organisations to ensure the immense contribution farmers and landowners provide to the economy is recognised.  We believe with the right strategy, the rural economy can thrive outside of the EU and we are looking forward to maximising all opportunities for our clients.

 

Tim Jones
Head of Rural Division
01223 346609
Tim.Jones@carterjonas.co.uk

Last week, DEFRA announced that its new simplified Countryside Stewardship Scheme (CSS) is open for applications.
The existing scheme has been criticised for its complexity, which has discouraged many landowners and farmers from making applications.  In response to this criticism, DEFRA have introduced four new simplified schemes which complement the existing Higher-Tier and Mid-Tier schemes and a sister scheme offering grants for the restoration of hedgerows and boundaries.

The four new schemes are designed to help wildlife thrive on the applicant’s farmland:
•    Arable Offer
•    Lowland Grazing Offer
•    Mixed Farming Offer
•    Upland Offer

Each scheme is designed to help support wildlife by creating:
•    Sources of nectar and pollen for insect pollinators
•    Winter food for seed-eating birds
•    Improved habitats, especially for farmland birds and pollinators

These Offers have been designed to be attractive to a wider range of farm businesses encouraging more farmers into the scheme.  The options available deliver sufficient environmental benefit to avoid the need for competition and hence scoring of applications.
Provided the applicant meets the minimum criteria, an agreement offer will be made, unlike the Mid-Tier and Higher-Tier schemes which are competitive.

Simplified Stewardship agreements will last 5 years from the Start Date. The application window closes on 31st July and application packs must be requested before 31st May 2018.

Please contact us if you would like to know more and find out if you are eligible for the grant.

Nicola Palfrey
Surveyor
01823 428594
Nicola.Palfrey@carterjonas.co.uk

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@ Tim Jones
Tim Jones
FRICS
Partner - Head of Rural Division
01223 346609 email me about Tim
@ Nicola Palfrey
Nicola Quick
RICS
Associate
01823 428594 email me about Nicola
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Tim is head of the firm's Rural Division and of the Cambridge office, although he spends a considerable amount of time in London.  He has over 20 years experience in advising institutional and private clients on a very wide range of rural business issues, including sales and purchases, strategic advice and valuations.  He often works with specialists in other divisions of the firm to provide clients with a fully integrated property service.  Tim lives near Newmarket and has a keen interest in country pursuits, encouraged constantly by his two children.

I can provide advice on:

Nicola is a Rural Chartered Surveyor, Agricultural valuer and AMC Agent based in Taunton office covering the south west. She is also a RICS registered valuer.

She undertakes a range of professional work from estate management, rural planning, compulsory purchase and compensation and valuations for a variety of purposes.  

A farmer’s daughter and wife, Nicola has strong links with the agricultural community.

I can provide advice on:

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