Farmers appear to be less confident about their economic prospects over the next 12 months than those operating in wider business, and a lower percentage have made preparations for a no-deal Brexit.
A recent survey of people working in the agricultural and rural sector by law firm Thomson Snell & Passmore found that 45% were “quite confident” in the strength of the UK economy in the next 12 months, while none said they were “extremely confident”.
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That compared with 54% who were either “quite” or “extremely” confident amongst management-level respondents in wider business, including bankers, educators, charity workers and representatives from the food, education and construction sectors.
There also seemed to have been a decline in farmer expectations with regards to trade prospects, with only 6% of respondents seeing better export opportunities as the main benefit of Brexit, compared with 36% when asked the same question 18 months ago.
Prepared for Brexit
With Brexit negotiations in parliament still in deadlock, the two groups were also asked about their state of preparedness for a no-deal Brexit.
In the wider business group, it was found that this had increased each month since December 2018 to 49%.
“This suggests that businesses are increasingly taking steps to review their commercial contracts and supply chains,” said a statement.
But among the agricultural/rural business respondents, just 39% said they had made any preparations for a no-deal Brexit.
According to Joanne Gallagher, partner at Thomson Snell & Passmore, business owners and operators should start looking at their current supply chains, access to goods and services, and access to talent.
“Business should be putting plans in place now to ensure they are as prepared as possible, regardless of the outcome (of Brexit negotiations).”
In terms of whether there should be a second referendum, respondents seem fairly split, with 53% of agricultural respondents saying they wanted one and 47% saying they did not.
But even if there was a second referendum, over 90% of all respondents said they would not change the way they voted.
The separate surveys were based on a sample of 80 from the agricultural sector and 140 from wider business.