The significance of agriculture cannot be overstated. It is a crucial industry that not only produces essential and healthy food for the global population but also provides us with a multitude of other indispensable commodities that we use on a daily basis.
In the past several decades, the structure of agriculture has seen a dramatic change, which has led to a surge in the number of people who have taken an interest in farming as a profession. In fact, nowadays, you do not need to come from a farming background to start a successful farm business. If you are among the many who would like to venture into this field, you must have numerous questions. Do not fret, though, because this comprehensive guide will take you through the most important aspects of starting a farming business in the UK.
Why start a farm?
People get into farming mostly for the same reasons they would launch any business. Perhaps you have an innovative idea that gives a twist or makes current models obsolete. Or maybe you have discovered a void that you think you could fill. Perhaps you have always wanted to connect with land and nature and farming provides a great opportunity for that. The reasons are endless.
Steps to starting a farming business in the UK
Starting a farming business is relatively straightforward, but it does not happen overnight. It takes months or even years to farm, market and sell your products, but with the following actionable steps, you will be on the path to success.
Step 1: Decide what to produce
There are many types of farming, making this step the most important. You can raise or grow almost any animal or plant you wish, but the circumstances have to be right. Your interests and preferences are the key determinants, but you also have to factor in some ethical questions that may come up. Agriculture relies heavily on the land and other animals and so, you need to put sustainability in mind as well. Sourcing natural nutrition and supplements for your livestock is a great start to becoming sustainable and more eco-friendly.
Step 2: Learn more about your product
Farming involves a lot of variables, most of which are out of your control. As such, it is important to learn as much as you can about what you wish to produce. There are many ways to learn including going to college, taking online courses and even attending trade schools. If you do not like the formal education route, consider working as an apprentice alongside an experienced farmer.
Step 3: Plan your finances
Farming requires land, equipment, labour, insurance, licensing and other aspects that need capital. In the UK, getting into the farming business can cost you as little as 10,000 Euros to millions and the actual amount will depend on the scope of your operations.
There are several ways to fund a farming business. The easiest is to make a cash purchase, if you have enough capital. However, if you do not have a substantial amount lying around, you can seek out investors or get a commercial loan. You can also tap into grants provided by the government.
Step 4: Buy land
The land is the most important part of your venture and so, you need to do your homework. If you intend to raise animals, all you need to do is ensure the climate is ideal for the particular livestock. Finding land for planting crops, however, is not as straightforward. Crops can be particularly tricky and the conditions for an ideal harvest have to be right. That said, you’ll want to ask the following questions:
- What is the best climate for the crops?
- What places have this kind of climate?
- How much rain falls in the region?
- Is the land rich and fertile enough to provide the necessary nutrients?
- How easy will it be to work on the land?
- Is the location safe for my workers and animals?
Step 5: Planning the farm
Next, it is imperative that you check the level of fertilization and irrigation the land requires. You have the option to fertilize the land naturally with manure and compost or use chemical fertilizers. Again, the best path will boil down to sustainability. Crop rotation is another aspect to consider if you want to get the best yields.
In this stage, you will also need to have a business perspective. Come up with a system that aligns with your business goals and ensure you have a backup plan.
Step 6: Develop and market your product
Even if you intend to specialize in one thing, chances are there will be by-products. If you plant sugarcane, for example, you may also want to sell molasses and sugarcane juice. So, come up with a plan for the direction your wish to develop your farming business.
Don’t forget about branding and marketing as well. Create a business logo, launch a website, market yourself on the relevant platforms and establish who you are and what you have to offer to potential customers.
What licenses and permits are required for a farming business in the UK?
To launch a farm business, you’ll need to obtain approvals from the local authorities for grazing licenses, planning permissions and the like. Depending on the specific nature of your business, there are different regulations and compliance. If you want to run a farm stay or B2B venture that has restaurant facilities, you’ll need to obtain approvals for serving food and beverages. For livestock-based farming, you’ll require:
- Certificate from Health & Safety Executive
- Registration from the Food Standard Agency
- Rural Land Register for agriculture
- DVLA and Registration & Licensing for farm vehicles
A professional in corporate services should help you navigate these processes, so don’t hesitate to consult one.
Get started on your venture!
There are numerous ways to go about starting a farming business in the UK. Your journey will be different from other businesses, but if you follow the steps discussed above, you will avoid the costly mistakes many make in this industry.