The nature of farms is changing… and so are we

Combine

A few months ago we touched on the increased diversification of farms and the fact that more and more UK holidaymakers are opting for staycations, in part due to poor Euro exchange rates, creating a huge opportunity for the burgeoning ‘agritourism’ industry.

As, summer draws to a close it’s going to be interesting to see how UK agritourism has performed in 2017. The claim by property consultants Bidwells in May that UK tourism generates more revenue for the rural sector than farming raised a lot of eyebrows across the wider business world, but within the farming community itself, the revelation was no great surprise. Where once diversification was a nice-to-have for farms, it is now becoming a necessity as rising production costs and squeezed supply chains erode the profitability of farmers’ core business operations.

According to Bidwells, there are 365 million trips to rural destinations each year, generating £18.6bn for the rural economy and providing 340,000 full-time jobs. From farms as holiday homes to on-site restaurants or childrens’ fun-days, the sector continues to demonstrate incredible imagination in reeling in the punters and showcasing UK farms.

While such burgeoning entrepreneurship and public access to farms is good to see, running them is a complex undertaking and the majority of farmers don’t intend to prioritise tourism (which can be equally complex) over their day to day business.

So how can the two meaningfully co-exist? Well, ensuring adequate insurance cover for an evolving use of the land and its activities is paramount, particularly where members of the public may be in close proximity to hazardous machinery and heavy agricultural vehicles. The VNUK consultation, currently being considered by government could affect farmers’ liabilities in respect of off-road vehicle use, bringing Public Liability risks under a Motor Liability. While we await the government’s response, this adds a further layer of consideration for farmers – and of course their brokers – when it comes to secondary activities like agritourism, as well as farm operations in general.

We recognise that the nature of farms and the demands on those within the sector are changing. Just last week we announced a new dedicated operations team to ensure we provide brokers with the capacity and responsiveness they increasingly need as they help farming customers manage and adapt to change, such as further diversification.

The addition of our dedicated operations hub means that we now have a 27-strong team, focused solely on agricultural motor risk - helping brokers with quotes, renewals and claims issues as well as complex underwriting.

As the pace of change continues to accelerate in this vibrant sector, speed together with efficiency of service is a must when supporting time-poor farmers. Our Agriculture team is in place to support all types of farming operation, from the simple smallholding to the more complex or diversified, giving busy farmers / entrepreneurs one less thing to worry about.

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