Some farmers or rural businesses don’t see the need to employ farm advisers or consultants. They see them as an added cost or are too proud to ask for help. Yet a consultant can bring specialist skills and knowledge to farm strategy and daily management, and can be of great help in troubleshooting. It’s important to recognise the value that the expertise of consultants can bring to any business. And it is, after all, very difficult to try and manage everything on your own.
Proactively working with a consultant gives business owners the opportunity to discuss the business and ideas with someone experienced who can help with making important management decisions. Consultants can stand back, take a fresh look at the business, offer independent advice and can make a real difference to the future of the farm.
A team of advisers – made from a farm consultant, financial advisor, land agent, accountant, or solicitor, for example – can give help on both strategic and operational matters. They can pool their experiences and observations together and can often bring a greater benefit than working with a single consultant.
Help in the current farming climate
With the downward pressure of commodity prices and volatile input costs, many farm businesses are feeling a squeeze on their finances. Many farms are talking to their banks about restructuring their existing finances to manage their costs, or borrowing more to see them through the challenging times. Some banks and lenders are looking at such requests with more scrutiny and we know there are some farms who are struggling to make any progress with their lender.
Where then can a farm turn? Some go to mortgage brokers, who often lack agricultural experience. It’s often the farm’s consultant, if indeed they have one, who is asked to help. Farm consultants provide an invaluable and practical service for farmers but applying for funding requires a subtly different expertise. So farm consultants often recommend the farm owner approaches a specialist agricultural finance consultant.
R&BS have recently worked on three farm cases where their farm consultants advised their clients to talk to us. One farm couldn’t get the finance they wanted to expand, and the others were being put under pressure from their banks as they were struggling to make their repayments.
By working closely with the farm consultants and the clients, R&BS have managed to turn around the situations for all three farms. We provided the agricultural financial knowledge and skills to set the finance strategy, restructure the business plan and create a lending proposal that was more acceptable to the banks. The farm consultants provided the individual farm knowledge, the current operational figures and forecasts to back up the proposals.
All three farms now have the finance they need, or have had their terms restructured to help them afford their repayments. Here's one of those stories.
Investment in the services of consultants with specific skills appropriate for the job should be regarded as an investment in future farm profitability.