Updated: Oct 8, 2018
The Basic Payment Scheme is going to change in a few years' time, particularly when Brexit has been accomplished. The present Minister has already outlined his intentions: 'Green' will feature in some shape or form, and farms intent on keeping their subsidy income will have to accommodate his vision, whatever the merits or benefits of such policies prove to be.
Many farmers and landowners are already establishing other ways of maintaining and enhancing their incomes. They are wise to do so. It will be more secure in the long run (being less influenced by any government policy); diversification has the chance to expand over the course of time - while subsidies tend to decrease in real terms - and it will be under the farmer's personal control.
There are so many opportunities. Yes, farmers may need capital to establish them but now may be the time to invest while present sources of money (earned or borrowed) are available.
Niche products - ice cream; cheese; organics; wool; pick-your-own (vegetables, soft fruit, flowers)
Tourism - farm building conversions for holiday lets; camping/'glamping'; Caravan Club sites; B&B.
Sport - fishing; riding; clay pigeon shooting, sport, shows
Business ventures - wedding venue, education, fuel sources, film and media studies
Retail - farm shops with homemade or local produce, arts & crafts, plus refreshments
Outdoor Activities - walking; cross country; paintballing; cycle paths
The choices for diversification are almost endless; and together with local rural scenery, architecture or history, they can offer employment and lucrative sources of income to sustain farms, both big and small, into the future and their succeeding generations.
Combine all this with commitment and the personal touch to put in both the work and the enthusiasm, and it surely has a real chance to succeed. Diversification can be rewarding, but the public, and the authorities still expect a quality, safe and reliable product. So it all needs careful preparation, and some flexibility in your management, to cater for their standards and their needs. Do it well and enjoy the plaudits, and look forward to the future, where enterprise can still succeed in this ever more competitive world.