The second part of Scrutton Bland’s Digital Farming Summit took place on 27th January 2021, and explored some of the issues currently facing the agricultural community including the economic outlook for agriculture, precision farming and machinery, agricultural tax strategies and commercial egg production.
Nick Banks, Business Advisory Partner and Head of Agriculture at Scrutton Bland introduced the event and was joined by Katerina Lisenkova, Economist at NatWest, Adrian Fullman and Sam Body of P Tuckwell Ltd, Gavin Birchall, Tax Partner at Scrutton Bland, Mark Williams, Chief Executive of the British Egg Industry Council, and Adrian Knowles, Chief Executive of Fram Farmers. The first part of the Summit was held on 20th January 2021.
The Digital Farming Summit attracted over 85 delegates from across the region and beyond, who heard first from Katerina Lisenkova who gave an economic perspective on climate change and agriculture. She explained that agriculture is the cause, casualty and comrade of climate change, since in the UK agriculture accounts for 10% of greenhouse emissions. However, she said, there are industry wide initiatives such as the Greenhouse Action Plan, which are helping to address this, while consumer pressure and technological advancements are leading to sustainable and carbon-neutral food production.
Adrian Fullman and Sam Body from P Tuckwell Ltd then then explained the latest developments in precision farming technology, giving examples of the way that information-enabled agriculture has enhanced productivity. Applications like ‘My John Deere’ allow real-time field analysis and yield comparisons, and machine-based telematics can now even detect early faults and create alerts so that time spent on machine repairs is minimised.
Gavin Birchall, Tax Partner at Scrutton Bland and specialist in tax issues relating to land management and agriculture, presentation focused on expenditure relating to farming and diversified activities, and ownership/sale of land and buildings, in particular the associated tax risks and tax reliefs. He clarified latest developments on Annual Investment Allowance, Capital Allowance and Structures and Buildings Allowance, and also spoke about the recent Scrutton Bland event with the Office of Tax Simplification, and the insights that gave into the possible changes coming from the government on Capital Gains Tax and Inheritance Tax.
Mark Williams, Chief Executive of the British Egg Industry Council gave an overview of commercial egg production over the past year, and how the pandemic has affected consumer buying patterns, for example a 30% increase in demand for eggs in March – May 2020. The COVID-19 crisis has also brought unforeseen challenges to the sector related to the availability of labour, PPE supply, and difficulties in obtaining egg packaging. He also outlined the industry’s move to a predominantly free-range supply model, and higher welfare standards.
Finally, a Q&A session was led by Adrian Knowles, Chief Executive of Fram Farmers.
The digital events on 20th and 27th January were organised by Scrutton Bland, who specialise amongst other things, in providing financial advice to the agricultural sector. Head of Agriculture Nick Banks commented: “We recognise the importance and value of engaging with our farming clients. The agricultural sector has to deal with many factors, some of which they can control, such as technology and digitalisation, and some of which they can’t, like the weather. We are here to help them make sure that their financial systems are as robust and efficient as possible, and to maximise the accuracy and relevance of the data they hold.”
As part of the two day event, Scrutton Bland pledged the cost of a bacon roll per attendee to Rural Mental Health Support charity YANA, You Are Not Alone. The Norfolk-based agricultural charity specialises in mental health advice and support for the farming and rural community and following the event Scrutton Bland were able to donate a total of £600 to the charity.
Both parts of the Digital Farming Summit can be viewed on demand on the Scrutton Bland website and YouTube page. Scrutton Bland regularly host events and share insights tailored specifically to the agricultural sector.