23 November 2001

WHY YOU NEED TO ASSESS YOUR BUSINESS

SEVEN weeks spent in Australia in early 2001 looking at consultancy, farm businesses and farmers goals as part of a Nuffield Farming Scholarship, enabled Matthew Currie, managing director of Smiths Gore Farm Management to see the UKs post-foot-and-mouth problems in a different light.

He was particularly struck by how farmers with proper support can more than adequately assess their own businesses and future within agriculture. As well as helping his own clients in the south of Scotland and the north of England, he has been part of the Scottish Executives Farm Business Recovery Support group administered by Scottish Enterprise.

Set up in April to provide guidance to Ross Finnie, Scottish Minister for Rural Affairs and his team, it also had a remit to support farmers who were trying to make sense of all the outbreak had thrown at them.

"Fundamental to recovery at a farm level is understanding your business and what you want from it," notes Mr Currie. Hence the title of his seminar at Agrivision 2001 – Assessing my business – which aims to signpost ways in which farmers and growers can develop their own plans, preferably with the help of their family, trusted friends and experienced farm and business advisers.

Creating the desire to change oneself is at the heart of his philosophy. It aims to enhance farmers own skills, self-awareness and – where appropriate – encourage the sharing of knowledge and ideas within groups of like-minded farmers.

"This achieves meaningful results time and again in Australia. In the future, benchmarking, farmer groups led by trained facilitators and increasing self reliance will all play their part in assisting UK farmers to embrace the change and manage the effects of global agriculture," he predicts.

"The object must be to ensure you manage the business rather than the business managing you!" He looks forward to discussing with those who come to Agrivision, how they see their future and how their business will go forward.