Farm business resilience support programme rolled out by NIAB, Savills and AKC

22 Jul 2022
The crop research and advisory organisation NIAB, management consultants Savills and financial consultants AKC are collaborating in a new programme of support and advice for arable, mixed, dairy, beef and sheep farming businesses throughout lowland England.

The initiative is part of the new £32 million Defra-funded Future Farming Resilience Fund programme, helping farmers prepare for the Agricultural Transition, which will see direct support payments reduce to zero by 2027. From October 2022 until March 2025, farmers will be able to access free advice and support to help their business adapt to the challenges caused by food supply chain pressures, rising input costs, extreme weather events and the changes to agricultural support. Delivered by 17 different advice providers from across the UK food and farming industry, each will provide information, tools, advice, and support for up to 32,000 farmers and landowners throughout this period of change.

NIAB, Savills and AKC’s collaborative network of 30+ experienced farm business consultants will be using a mix of online tools, resources and industry expertise from across the three organisations. This follows successful delivery of support to hundreds of farmers by the partners during the interim phase in late 2021.

Elizabeth Stockdale, who is co-ordinating delivery for NIAB said: “Our support will be open to all farmers throughout England, helping them to increase knowledge about the impacts of changes to direct payments, explore options for farming system change and develop change management skills. There is no single solution and so we will work with farmers to help find the way forward that works for their business.

“A key part of programme is the personal resilience of the farmer; we will continue to work with the Farming Community Network to ensure that there is provision of simple and accessible resources to support well-being and direct farmers to further help.”

For further information go to NIAB Future Farming Resilience Fund.

Delivery in the Interim Phase
NIAB delivered a pilot Future Farming Resilience Fund project with farmers in the Cotswolds and Wessex areas through winter 2021. Working with 75 farmers, with workshops and on-farm visits, NIAB specialists covered the impacts of changes to direct payments, explored options for farming system change and developed change management skills. Each farmer was provided with a toolkit to plan, implement then monitor changes at small-scale before acting to roll-out change across the business.

At the same time Savills and AKC worked in partnership with AHDB to deliver strategic advice, business planning and performance monitoring to help farm businesses explore their options and benchmark performance.

About NIAB
NIAB is the UK’s fastest growing crop science organisation, with rapidly expanding research capabilities in plant genetics, agronomy, farming systems and data science, the largest national field trials capability, and strong research links with industry, Government and academia. With headquarters in Cambridge, and regional offices across the country, employing more than 400 people across the UK, NIAB provides scientific research, technical services and practical advice to improve the yield, efficiency and resilience of crop production across the arable, forage and horticulture sectors.

NIAB through its Farming Systems Specialists and the Regional Agronomy team have significant expertise in one-to-one and one-to-group delivery of impartial advice and information, by telephone, online, in the office and in-field, as well as industry and professional development training. Through its TAG Consulting team, NIAB has more than 30 years’ experience in providing technical field-based agronomy and farm business advice to a portfolio of farmer clients.. NIAB also provides ARTIS training courses to young agronomists on understanding gross margins, trading accounts and benchmarking.

Contact at NIAB: Dr Elizabeth Stockdale

About Savills
Savills (UK) Ltd provide an inclusive advisory and management service for farmers, landowners, (including private individuals, corporates, institutions and charities), rural businesses and those working in food processing and the food supply chain. This project will be led by the Food & Farming team who operate across England, allowing us to provide national support from local offices. The team includes 16 farm business consultants who all have a background in providing strategic advice, business planning and performance monitoring services to help business explore their options, benchmark performance, reduce costs, and increase income as well as profits.  The Food & Farming team will be supported by other specialist consultants operating in the energy, leisure and natural capital sectors who can provide additional bespoke advice where appropriate depending on the needs of the farmer.

Contact at Savills: AMatthews [at] (Adrian Matthews)

About AKC
AKC provide a technical & financial consultancy to farmers in the South of England. This includes landed estates and family farming businesses. This project will be supported by our team of six consultants who all have the necessary technical & financial training to assist farmers in managing change. The integration of AKC within the team ensures good coverage of the service into the South/ South West of England and Midlands. The dynamic of farm management and consultancy enables AKC to bring another facet to the established more corporate approaches of Savills and NIAB, ensuring excellent engagement throughout the industry.
Contact at AKC: james.berry [at] (James Berry)

About the Future Farm Resilience Fund
Any farmer or land manager who receives BPS (Basic Payment Scheme payments) in England is eligible for free business advice during the early years of the agricultural transition. Defra have established the Future Farming Resilience Fund (scale up phase) to support the delivery of this advice through 17 advice providers, who will work with farmers and land managers to understand how the changes to farming will affect their businesses and help them to plan for the future. Different advice providers offer different kinds of support, in different sectors. Many of them offer 1-to-1 consultations and farm visits, followed up by recommendations in a report. Others provide workshops, webinars, tours and networking opportunities to help farmers get support from other farmers. Between October 2022 and March 2025 support will be provided to up to 32,000 farmers and land managers.