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A new year brings new opportunities for farming businesses

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At MHA, our team of rural experts, some of whom have real life farming experience, offer a unique insight and understanding of rural and agribusinesses. Covering a wide-ranging client portfolio that spans family farms across livestock, dairy and arable, through to large commercial organisations. We also serve clients from the broader rural community, including in leisure and tourism and property.

MHA currently represents over 1,000 agribusiness owners, we take the time to get to know your business and people, building lasting relationships and creating an environment where our services are tailored to you. Our experts are ready to assist in many areas such as accounting, tax, financial planning, succession planning and diversification.

Find out more at: MHA | Agribusiness

A new year brings new opportunities, in an ever changing environment.

Here are some top tips below which may be useful for planning the year ahead for agricultural businesses.

About the authorJoe Spencer

Joe Spencer joined MHA in 2017 to continue his speciality of advising agricultural businesses which he has been doing since 2005.

Progressing to a partner in 2020, Joe continues to build the sector profile across the firm, advising clients primarily in the family/owner-managed business space on all matters relating to agriculture and rural business.


  • Setting budgets is a business fundamental in cost control
  • Many of the software providers which you will use to record your business transactions will have a budget function built within – give it a go if you haven’t already
  • It can identify areas where you may need to cut back on spending, or at least it will enable you to collate the information to ask the question
  • Consider joining a benchmarking group so you can compare with other businesses

Forecasting cashflow

  • Not the same as budgeting – plan ahead to understand where your pinch points are
  • Allows you to consider what can be changed to alleviate these pinch points
  • These documents will help when speaking to lenders – much more likely to provide finance if underpinned by forecasts (and budgets)
  • As with budgeting, software advances in recent years have resulted in numerous options available to help you with forecasting

Capital expenditure planning and pensions

  • Consider the timing of capital expenditure as this can have a big difference on tax liabilities – the same can be said for pension contributions
  • The sale or part exchange of excess/old equipment makes good sense, but don’t forget if full tax relief was achieved up front on acquisition, your sale proceeds will likely be taxed
  • Even more important in a year where many might be impacted by basis period changes – speak to your advisor if you are unincorporated business with a non 31 March / 5 April year end
  • Remember the hire purchase rules – assets must be invoiced and brought into use by the accounting year end in order to get the relief for the cost
  • Personal pension contributions need to be paid before the tax year end to allow for tax relief

Cash management

  • With interest rates now ‘off the floor’ – there are some more opportunities on deposit/savings rates than previously. Make your hard-earned money work hard for you.
  • Be cautious, however, of tying up your cash for too long when you may need it – this should be considered in conjunction with cash forecasting as above
  • It’s never too early to start looking at refinancing options – you might have a fixed-rate loan coming to an end in the near future – start the conversations now to understand what impact this will have and explore your options

Legals – partnership agreements, shareholder agreements, wills and PoA’s

  • Remember the importance of these documents and consider whether they need to be updated
  • If you haven’t got them in place already, start the conversation to understand the benefits of ensuring these documents are up to date and work together – especially for a farming business
  • Power of attorneys can be critical to allow a business to continue in times when you might have to focus on other matters
  • Engage with agricultural specialists in these fields who have a good understanding of the intricacies of the sector
  • And if you have a sole-director company – consider adding a second director to avoid issues if there is loss of capacity


  • Talk to your accountant to ensure you are maximising your tax allowances and making the most of any opportunities
  • Share with them any budgets and forecasts – tax payments on account will be a big feature for July 2024 and there might be opportunities to reduce these, having a positive impact on your cashflow
  • We are expecting some changes to tax legislation considering the political environment we are in this year, so keep an eye out for the Spring Budget (6 March)


  • Quite often we hear about parcels of land which ‘may’ go for development or be ripe for a solar scheme etc. Consider whether now is the time to pursue this more actively.
  • With the loss of subsidy, diversification is often required to maintain cashflow requirements
  • Advance planning is required to make sure any proposal is structured as efficiently as possible and will probably need to be considered alongside your succession and retirement goals