Rural firms develop novel ideas

Rural businesses are diversifying in numerous ways, including glamping.

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Glamping, distilling, adventure tourism and even outdoor farm fitness are among the novel opportunities open to rural businesses looking for ‘diversification inspiration’.

A new guide created by Scotland’s Rural College (SRUC) as part of its Rural Brexit Hub highlights successful examples from around the UK and includes advice on how to get new projects off the ground.

Guide author Calum Johnston says that, with current Brexit uncertainty and the onset of reductions in farm subsidy payments after 2021, diversification will become increasingly important for farmers and rural businesses to ensure long-term sustainability.

According to DEFRA and the NFU Mutual Diversification Report 2018, more than 60 per cent of UK farms have diversified, with 63 per cent of businesses stating that diversification is either ‘vital’ or ‘significant’ to the financial viability of the farm.

As well as case studies of successful projects, Future Proof Your Business Through Diversification includes advice on aspects such as legislation, planning permission and insurance.

Calum, from SAC Consulting’s Food and Drink Team, said: ‘Amid the continuing uncertainty over Brexit, more and more farmers are thinking about diversification as a way of adding value to their business and helping to ensure financial sustainability.

‘This guide highlights a range of exciting opportunities for farms of all sizes and capabilities from weddings, added-value produce and farm vending, to agri-tourism, leisure-tourism and equine holidays.’

SRUC’s Rural Brexit Hub provides online support on the latest Brexit-related activities being undertaken across the organisation, including work by researchers and staff from SAC Consulting.

The Hub is supported by the Scottish Government and the Scottish Funding Council’s Universities Innovation Fund.