More than a third of Scottish farmers believe national policy making decisions should be made at Westminster.
According to the results of an online survey released by chartered accountants, Johnston Carmichael, 37% of farmers questioned believed Westminster should hold the reins and 36% believe power should rest at Holyrood. The remainder were content with either solution.
A questionnaire emailed by Johnston Carmichael to 1263 farm businesses in Angus, Aberdeenshire and Moray received 215 responses. Replies indicated that farmers are preparing themselves for the changing political landscape, with a majority of respondents predicting negative impacts from the UK’s exit from Europe, or unsure of how it would affect their business.
However responses indicated the sector foresees the removal of red tape associated with EU membership as a potential benefit. The movement in exchange rates since last year’s referendum has given an uplift to most farm output prices in sterling terms and farmers accept that currency movements will continue to have a major impact on farm profitability in the future.
Johnston Carmichael partner, Neil Steven, said additional income sources had helped to bolster the sector, principally through diversifying and investing in alternative enterprises such as renewable energy services.
Looking to the longer term, there has been a slight increase in the number of farm businesses confirming they have a succession plan in place – up to 47% from 45% last year.
Mr Steven said: “Given the ageing demographic responsible for running much of the sector, with 59% of respondents to the survey over the age of 51, the number without that future plan in place remains concerningly high.
“The sector and its financiers need to consider how businesses could be structured and operated to better accommodate diversity in capital ownership, giving the younger generation the opportunity to get a footing within the industry.
“The next generation so often have the ideas, energy and aspirations to make a career within the industry, but not necessarily the financial capability to make the upfront capital investment required to convert that enthusiasm into operational viability and success.”