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Experts advise on planning future success

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Farmers from across the South West are expected to descend on the Royal Cornwall Showground next week for a specially organised business seminar on farm diversification and how to plan for future success.

These are the key themes for the agricultural event on Thursday 25 February (11am-2pm) being jointly hosted by the region’s only general insurance company Cornish Mutual, leading regional legal firm Stephens Scown and respected Chartered Accountants and Business Advisers Winter Rule.

The Pavilion Centre will be the venue for the seminar which is aimed at those involved in or considering diversifying their farm. As well as formal presentations from the three companies, an open-floor question and answer session will be chaired by Cornish Mutual’s Managing Director Alan Goddard. Guest panellists will include Catherine Mead, Director of Lynher Dairies Cheese Company in Ponsanooth near Truro and Mike Rowe from Moorhayes Consultants Limited.

Alan Goddard says: “This is a really valuable opportunity for farmers and those working in the agricultural industry in the region to get the right advice and information, direct from the experts, about legal or financial issues they may be dealing with when diversifying or planning to diversify. By the three companies coming together, it should provide a really good one-stop-shop and a more rounded approach in helping them to plan for the future.”

Stephens Scown has a dedicated rural team with offices in Exeter, Truro and St Austell. It is headed up by partner Richard Baker who will be talking about farmers maximising their potential and avoiding the pitfalls

Richard says: “Working in the agricultural sector in the South West can throw up all sorts of complex issues – it can be quite a minefield, particularly when it comes to having the legal expertise needed. There are many requirements for help and advice in the rural market, which is unique in many ways. I’m sure that landowners and farmers will benefit greatly from attending this event.”

Farmers will diversify for a number of reasons which might include having dormant assets (buildings, land or amenities), lack of stability in income or through it being an economic necessity.

Robert Cowie FCA, partner at Winter Rule in Truro will be looking at preserving inheritance tax and capital gains tax. Robert says: “It’s really important that should a farmer diversify and move away from their core business of agriculture, they ensure that things are set up in a way so that crucially important inheritance tax and capital gains tax reliefs aren’t lost.”

He adds: “Diversification is being considered by most farmers these days as another strand for providing additional income, whether it’s setting up a farm shop, holiday lets or making commercial use of their buildings – farmers often sit on valuable assets and these assets can be used to increase their income capacity.”

The event at the Royal Cornwall Showground will be followed by a buffet lunch and networking session, so that delegates are able to ask the experts more personal and pressing questions and chat informally.

Around two thirds of Cornwall’s farmers are insured by Cornish Mutual and the firm also has Members across Devon, Somerset and Dorset. Cornish Mutual’s Business Development Manager Mitch Portman and local Inspector Jim Martin will be explaining why it is important to keep in touch with your insurance company throughout the process of diversification to make sure that insurance cover is right for changing business needs.

Alan Goddard, Managing Director of Cornish Mutual, adds: “One of our key concerns and something we’ll be stressing at the event is that farmers must keep their insurance company informed about what changes they’re making to their business. Many hundreds of farmers decide to diversify every year, but don’t fully consider the implications this might have on their cover.”

He says: “Quite often this includes changes to buildings, contents or machinery and there could be issues around public liability or employers’ liability that might leave them exposed – they might find they’re not properly covered, particularly when it comes to making a claim.”