A £200,000 initiative to help farmers cope with reduced farm payments under Common Agricultural Policy reforms has been launched in Scotland.

The “Planning for Profit” initiative will provide advice sessions for livestock and mixed livestock/arable farmers to help them develop a structured approach to business planning and boost their competitiveness.

It is backed by the Scottish government’s Skills Development Scheme, Quality Meat Scotland (QMS) and NFU Scotland, which have voiced concern over the restructure of the CAP and the potential for a significant reduction in farm incomes.

Scotland’s rural affairs secretary Richard Lochhead said: “We all know the next CAP will bring about a shift to area-based payments and, since it looks unlikely that DEFRA will give Scotland’s farmers the budget allocation they deserve, it’s clear there will be reduced direct support for many farm businesses in Scotland.

“This will bring obvious challenges to businesses, making it more important than ever for farmers to have a critical look at reducing input costs and maximising efficiency savings. I am pleased to provide funding support to the Planning for Profit programme at such an important time for the livestock industry.

“This project will enable farmers to review their current management systems and make a step change towards securing a sustainable, profitable future for their businesses, which provide the raw materials that drive the continued success of our food and drink industry.”

NFU Scotland’s regional co-ordination manager, Lisa Roberts, added: “Scottish farmers must plan, prepare and adapt to a new era where reduced farm support is a certainty.

“While NFUS will be holding roadshows this winter that specifically look at the implications for future support arrangements in Scotland, this initiative goes further and gets farmers thinking about how to ensure their businesses are both profitable and competitive in the years ahead.”

Planning for Profit Roadshow dates:

  • Thursday, 5 December 2013 – Dryburgh Abbey, Melrose
  • Tuesday, 10 December 2013 – Lochter, Oldmeldrum
  • Tuesday, 21 January 2014 – Lochside Hotel, New Cumnock
  • Thursday, 23 January 2014 – Dewar’s Ice Rink, Perth
  • Wednesday, 12 February 2014 – Thistle Hotel, Inverness 
  • To book contact Kirsty at QMS on 0131 472 4040 or email info@qmscotland.co.uk with your name, address and telephone number, stating which of the roadshows you would like to attend. Each roadshow starts at 10.30am and finishes at approximately at 3pm. A free lunch is included at each workshop.

    QMS chairman Jim McLaren added: “Our industry has fantastic brands such as Scotch Beef that have huge potential for growth in the home and overseas markets, but it is vital we have increased supplies of product to meet that demand.

    “I strongly encourage farmers to take part in this free initiative that will help to ensure a structured planning process for their businesses. By doing so they can plan for the future, confident their businesses are well positioned to grow.”

    The advice sessions will be delivered by SAOS, SAC Consulting (part of Scotland’s Rural College) and agricultural consultant Peter Cook. The initiative kicks off in December with the start of a series of roadshows around Scotland.

    Key to the project is the production of a new reference guide that will give examples of best practice, including practical, workable case studies and ideas about what is possible to adapt systems and plan for the future.

    Jim Booth of SAOS said: “Planning for Profit is not just a response to CAP reform, it is also a great opportunity for farmers to think about the future and how they grow their businesses.

    “There’s a real need to improve farm productivity to increase our competitiveness and Planning for Profit will provide farmers with the opportunity to replan their businesses.”

    The roadshows in December and January will be followed by a series of farm visits and workshops and these will involve farmers who have already successfully introduced changes to improve their farms’ performance.

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