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Costs, succession and CAP reform – Brown & Co tackle topical issues at Cereals 2014

Brown and Co is tackling a diverse but topical range of technical, political and business issues at Cereals 2014 to help keep farming businesses competitive now and for the longer term.

Labour and machinery costings come under the spotlight with the launch of a new service that assesses these overheads in fine detail, revealing the true cost of operations and crop production on individual farm businesses, says head of agricultural business consultancy Philip Dunn.
“The scheme examines the cost of owning and running all machinery, as well as the cost of labour, including an assessment of non-productive hours, which often are ignored,” he adds.
As well as producing highly detailed spreadsheets, the output can be expressed in several dashboard formats, which highlight key data in a range of easy-to-interpret graphics. This allows rapid assessment of the results, which can be used to define performance and compare and benchmark with other businesses, says Mr Dunn.
Succession planning Fewer than half of Britain’s farmers have made an adequate succession plan, leaving farms at risk of being broken up through unnecessary tax bills and expensive litigation, says head of land agency Charles Birch.

Staff will be on hand to explain to visitors the importance of putting the right framework in place to ensure the farm passes seamlessly on to the next generation, and how Brown & Co can help them achieve that. “We are regularly being instructed to try to pick up the pieces after tragedy has struck farming families,” says Mr Birch. “It is much easier for your heirs if you plan ahead rather than to burden them with often impossible decisions.”

CAP reform Experts will also be available to discuss the latest elements of CAP reform, notably DEFRA’s implementation of the controversial greening rules, including the three-crop rule and Ecological Focus Areas that are required to secure support payments. Details are expected to be released in the run-up to the event. “Under the new rules farmers with more than 30ha of arable land must grow at least three crops,” says Brown & Co’s Tom Gee. “In addition to this, 5% of arable land will need to go into Ecological Focus Areas although at this stage we do not have definitive guidance on what options can be taken up to fulfil this requirement, making autumn planning very difficult. “We hope DEFRA will release this information by the end of May. That being the case, we will have all the answers at Cereals 2014.”