This week saw the publication of a SRUC Report which suggests that Brexit may result in an increased number of farmers and crofters – perhaps as many as 1 in 5 – considering early retirement. The report raises concerns about this potentially leading to lower investment agriculture, which overall may have a negative impact on the wider rural economy
The report itself covers a huge number of rural issues and the press coverage has, perhaps unsurprisingly, focused on the Brexit commentary. Although the headlines have highlighted concerns about succession and retirement, the report looks at a wide range of Brexit-related issues which affect the rural sector, such as:
- the agricultural sector’s reliance on seasonal and migrant labour (particularly in sub-sectors such as horticulture)
- the importance of the export market for products like seed potatoes
- the impact of the weakening Pound
- uncertainties over future subsidy support systems
The report will make interesting reading for anyone involved in the rural sector in Scotland.
Coming back to the headline issue of succession and retirement, whether or not Brexit will be a catalyst for a generational change in Scottish farming remains to be seen. Succession planning in agricultural businesses is rarely simple and, as we have covered previously, forthcoming reform of the rules mean that all farm and rural business owners should take some time to consider their own position carefully.