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Charting a new path for the farming industry

CHRIS LEWIS from Marsh Commercial explains that while overcoming coronavirus is currently a major focus for the Shropshire farming sector, the industry must be prepared for other factors that could impact its future success.

Who could have predicted at the beginning of the year that we would be facing one of the most difficult healthcare battles for centuries, and the onward repercussions for the farming sector?

Covid-19 has had a devastating impact on lives across the UK, including in Shropshire, affecting every aspect of how we live, work and socially interact. There is no denying that it is currently the key priority, but as the pandemic has shown us, business resilience has to be a consistent priority for all businesses – and the farming sector is no exception. 

Firstly, whilst what a post-Brexit future looks like remains ambiguous as negotiations are on hold, the ramifications of the UK’s decision to leave the EU have already been felt, and these may continue to redefine the industry. There is still a continuing need for clarity on the deals and tariffs that will be agreed. At the same time, a US trade deal may see an influx of new competitors in the UK’s agricultural sector - there may of course be opportunities too from this. The uncertainty is unsettling for the industry and makes long term planning extremely challenging.

Farming is also facing the newly introduced Agriculture bill, which will be one of the biggest policy changes for a generation. At the core of the bill is a shift away from subsidies based largely on the amount of land farmed towards a new system – the Environmental Land Management Scheme (ELMS).

Although this transition will not happen overnight, we should see greater diversification, innovation and environmental responsibility as a result. Farmers across the region will need to step up to the challenge to provide increased environmental benefits, such as better soil and air quality, and improved animal welfare.

Legislative changes can sometimes be difficult to navigate but it is essential to know how they affect both day-to-day operations as well longer term strategic planning for businesses.

Often under a bespoke insurance policy, experts are able to provide guidance on legislation and offer advice on protecting farms and employees.

Alongside political and legislative changes, another major concern for Shropshire and the surrounding region is flooding which has devastated the area in the past six months.

Although Shropshire faces the persistent threat of flooding from extreme weather, effective risk management measures such as resilient repairs and health and safety compliance can help protect any future damage to property, assets and business operations.

Rural crime also continues to be issue in the Shropshire farming community. Whilst these are sometimes unpredictable one-off events, incidents such as theft of livestock and machinery, especially ATV’s and GPS technology, can be highly disruptive if the right insurance cover is not in place. Robust theft prevention measures can prevent an incident from becoming a costly and time-consuming mission to recover valuable assets.

It is clear that the UK farming sector is facing significant challenges from political, environmental and social pressures, no less in Shropshire where a thriving and vibrant agricultural community exists.

Specialist insurance and risk advisors are able to review current insurances and determine whether certain policies cover any potential damaging occurrences. They can also recommend tailored resilience strategies to ensure that exposure is significantly reduced to the wide spectrum of current and future risks.


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