Taking Stock: 10 ways to plan your future farming business

10 ways beef and sheep farmers can plan for ELMs

What does the Environmental Land Management scheme mean for beef and sheep farmers?

Our head of business development Helen Aldis looks at what beef and sheep farmers can do to prepare for ELMs (in England) and what it means to existing agri-environmental schemes.


10 points to consider

With so much to consider and a new funding framework for farmers and land managers in development, we've identified a list of 10 points that will help navigate the evolving landscape of funding and support.

  1. Prepare for the end of direct payments (BPS) – by 2027 there may no longer be a funding stream that contributes to farm business income in this way.
  2. Keep an eye out for changes and interim schemes, especially for grant opportunities and alterations in compliance and regulation.
  3. Understand the public goods that public money will reward – do you know the range of public goods you can deliver on farm?
  4. Review your assets and resources – this will help you to identify potential efficiencies in your business or new enterprises and ways of working. Set a target for the change you want to make (consider income, profit, innovation and personal satisfaction).
  5. Become part of an accredited schemes (if you aren’t already). This will help prepare your business for the changes proposed and also support you in gathering evidence to be eligible for future funding.
  6. Explore and evaluate new markets – introduce new breeds into your farm, direct sell or collaborate regionally.
  7. Be willing and open to collaboration – forge and develop new and existing networks.
  8. How can your farm business become Net Zero? Do you know what your current environmental impact is? Start measuring and monitoring now.
  9. Talk to others – speak to your vet, bank manager, accountant etc and build a plan together. Visit other farms for inspiration. Be prepared for blockers and others presenting potential blockers.
  10. Set goals – seven years is a long time so make short-term (in one year’s time our business will...) and mid-term (by 2024 our business will...) targets.

For many farm businesses, income from the Basic Payment Scheme (BPS) will have contributed significantly to their bottom line so its planned phasing out will make a big difference. Alongside our top 10 of things to do we have developed tools which can help farm businesses plan and assess the future priorities for their business.

This article was originally written for Defra's Taking Stock pilot scheme in October 2020