Farmers are facing the recession head-on by showing enormous resilience and entrepreneurial spirit.
A recent survey by Savills Rural (01392 455700) has revealed that farmers have more than 200 different on-farm diversification projects in the South West. These range from aeroplane clubs and a chocolate factory to producing cricket-bat willows and luxury portable loos.
‘I am always impressed by farmers’ fighting sprit – they have been through some tough times but always seem to bounce back stronger,’ says Mike Townsend, a director at Savills’ Exeter office. ‘When you look at the huge range of ideas that our clients have seen through to fruition, it is clear that they are the true entrepreneurs of our time.’
New income streams are being generated through equine recovery centres, converting buildings into a children’s nursery, worm farming, dairy processing, go-karting, and renewable energy projects.
‘The list of innovative new ventures goes on and on – each and every farm and farmer is uniquely suited to a different type of enterprise,’ says Mr Townsend. ‘Of course, there are also those who are running successful businesses by concentrating on the core farming operations – diversification doesn’t suit everyone. But for those seeking a new income stream, the opportunities are endless.’
With a new round of Rural Development Programme funding now underway, South West farmers have access to £156m of grant aid over the next four years, to help them improve efficiencies, add value or diversify.