News & Articles

Countryside Stewardship Scheme application window now open!

The new window for Countryside Stewardship claims opened 18th February 2019 – farmers, foresters and land managers to request 2019 application packs via and clicking on the relevant scheme e.g. Mid Tier.


Farmers and land managers who are new to taking on environmental work or with expired or expiring Environmental Stewardship agreements can apply for:

Higher Tier (18th Feb to 3rd May 2019 application window)

Mid Tier (18th Feb to 31st July 2019 application window)

Wildlife Offers (18th Feb to 31st July 2019 application window)

Hedgerow & Boundaries (18th Feb to 3rd May 2019 application window)

Tree Health (open for applications all year)

Woodland Management Plans (open for applications all year)

Woodland Creation (open for applications all year)

15th May 2019 – CS/ES revenue claims deadline (without penalty)

31st May 2019 – deadline for making certain changes to a submitted CS/ES revenue claim without penalty submitted before 15th May 2019.

Whilst Michael Gove’s announcement of the Agriculture Bill in September 2018 did not say a great deal about farming to produce food for the UK and export markets; one thing it did signal was a change in how farmers will be paid once (if?!) we leave the EU.

The current Basic Payment Scheme will be phased out with funding for environmental benefits and public goods at the front of the new agricultural policy. At Arthey Associates we encourage our customers to make use of entering Countryside Stewardship agreements now, to be well-placed to benefit from the new Environmental Land Management (ELM) system, which is due to be introduced 2024/2025. This will follow three years of piloting the new system nationally.

You can view all of the CS/ES deadlines Key_dates_timeline_-_CS_ES_and_BPS__V3.0_and for help with submitting your application, please speak to Tom on email or 07748 295448.

Making VAT Digital – two weeks to get up to speed with changes

How VAT-registered businesses declare their quarterly VAT returns will change with effect from VAT periods starting 1st April 2019 or after, which gives you less than a month to ensure that you are using software to record your bookkeeping that is compatible with HMRC.

sheep newsletter

If your turnover is over the VAT threshold of £85,000, your business will need to submit all VAT returns for periods starting from 1st April 2019 via an online software submission. This means that if your current VAT period ended 31st March 2019, you can still submit in the normal way logging in to your Government Gateway, but for any VAT periods starting on or after 1st April 2019 you will need to submit your VAT return via HMRC compatible software.

If you haven’t already done so, check with your software provider if you need to download an update to make it compatible – and if you don’t currently use software to record all transactions in and out of your business, now is the time to decide whether you want to buy a software package yourself, or perhaps look to outsource this work to a third party if your time could be better used.

Arthey Associates use MoneyManager bookkeeping software to record all transactions for our clients, and our software is updated for HMRC compatibility. We are full members of ICB and IAgSA and are registered as HMRC Agents. We are also fully trained on Xero, Zoho and QuickBooks software if your business already has one of those in place but you would like to pass the administration of this on to a local expert.

We can handle your VAT returns and all bookkeeping from our Northamptonshire offices in Oundle, taking control of an often monotonous but necessary business task and freeing you up to focus on your business growth and other goals.

For your no-obligation quote, please fill in the following form:

The Agricultural Bill 2018 – what it means, and what to do!


The Secretary of State for Defra, Michael Gove, introduced the Agricultural Bill 2018 to Parliament this week, in what has been heralded, by the government at least, as the first legislation in over half a century to deliver “a healthier and cleaner environment for future generations”.

But bold statements and spin aside, what does the bill set out and what will it mean for farmers and the wider agricultural sector?

Well, the simple answer is that there are no big surprises beyond what Mr Gove has previously been saying. His previous suggestions that farmers would receive “public money for public good” are indeed reflected in the bill, and as suspected, this will mean significant changes to the subsidy regime as we know it.

Direct payments will remain at the current levels for 2019 and 2020, supposedly with some simplification, and then will be phased out between 2021 and 2027, instead being replaced with a new system that rewards farmers for various “public goods”.

These will be for providing environmental measures on farms that include improvements to soil health, air and water quality, and enhanced wildlife habitats. Opening up the countryside to more public access, improving animal welfare, and support for technology adoption and on-farm research and development are also likely to feature highly.

For anyone who has read through the bill, you will have noted that many statements start with the words “the Secretary of State may….”, and this gives Mr Gove, or his successor(s), plenty of flexibility as to how they implement a new payment regime, at what levels, and which sorts of “public goods” will be most rewarded. This is, of course, by design given that until we have a clear idea as to what sort of relationship we will have with the EU, it is difficult to know what support is going to be necessary for what sectors of our industry.
No information has been given as to exactly how the “pubic good” activities will be measured. Furthermore, no details have been specified as to how quickly direct payments will be cut during the 2021-2027 transition period, or indeed indicated the likely starting level of direct payments during the transition, so if there is wider pressure on public spending after the Brexit deal in 2019, we could see big changes to direct subsidies as early as 2021.

Although there is still plenty of detail to be fleshed out, this doesn’t mean that farmers should not be making plans now. This bill has put in to black and white that farmers will not receive subsidies as they do now, and for most farming businesses that is going to mean the need to review the current business structure and where your income is received from. The key message is that unless your business could currently afford to farm without direct payments, you have the next two years to look at how you operate, and have made plans on how to be significantly less reliant on subsidy money.

Making sure you are as efficient as you can be is a key element of this, but you should also be considering whether there are various features and assets on the farm that can be utilised to provide the “public goods” that Mr Gove is looking for, be that habitats and features that you might not even realise you have, through to reusing redundant buildings on the farm, maybe as education centres or for community use.

In the future, and certainly beyond 2027, it is unlikely that any money will be awarded to farmers simply for farming the land. Money could, however, be available for the methods used to farm land, or what you make the land available for. For example, using farming methods that actively conserve and improve soil health could receive payments, or making land available for flooding as part of a flood alleviation scheme for nearby towns is likely to be looked on favourably.

Indications are that proportionately more of the public money will be available in the form of grants or government backed loans than in recurrent payments. Improving technology and supporting research and development has been given specific reference, and suggests that project funding for farm level trials and technology adoption could increase, especially where a number of farmers are prepared to collaborate.

Although, at this stage, there is very little detail available for farmers to firmly plan what to do to tap in to public funds, Arthey Associates advise that the first step should be to review the current financial performance and level of reliance on subsidy support, and based on the information available in the Agricultural Bill, to then consider what benefits the farm could provide to the public, be that environmental or by virtue of location of features. Undertaking a “health check” of your farm at this stage, will then allow you the time to consider what scenarios would work best for you as the details on future support start to become clear.

Please contact Arthey Associates for details of our “Farm Health Checks” to start the process of preparing for the future.

Contact us

As GDPR changes come into effect on Friday, don’t miss the opportunity to redefine your contacts database

farmers market - fruit

If you have an email address, the odds are that you have received a fair few emails over the last week asking for you to opt in to receiving contact from that business or organisation from Friday 25th May onwards, when new regulations on how we store and use data come into effect.

While much of the discussion has been negative, Amy Woolliscroft, marketing executive at farm business consultants Arthey Associates, advises that this is actually an opportunity for businesses. “Companies need to realise that where they need to confirm consent from their contact database, this is actually an opportunity to hone your target audience to people that actually want to engage with you and are more likely to become repeat or first-time customers. What you will be left with after Friday is a database that may well be half the size, or even less, than it was before, but is more valuable that the original.”

Large corporations are privy to legal and digital advice either in-house or from partner companies, but for smaller businesses including farm diversifications and other rural enterprises, you may be about to miss the boat for securing contact with your customer base going forwards. If, for example, you have a riding stables or camping site on your farm, you need to contact existing, past and future clients to ensure that they are happy to receive communications from you.

If your contacts are based within the EU, you need to ask them to opt-in, i.e. actively choose, to receive emails and other contact from you before the Friday deadline. However, GDPR incorporates more than consent, and there are five other reasons for legitimate contact once the changes come into effect.

If you need to contact someone due to a contract (they are a contracted client), legal obligation, vital interests, public interest or legitimate interest, then these are all viable reasons for contact under the new rules. If you have already sought consent when you gained that contact’s data, you also don’t need to ask for consent again so long as it conforms with the GDPR guidelines.

If you need any support in the best course of action for your business, you can contact Amy Woolliscroft or 07858 656444.

As a Sainsbury’s and Asda merger announces a dual brand strategy, is it time to rethink your own brand?

With the news that grocery giants Sainsbury’s and Asda are set to merge and promise to cut the cost of shoppers’ baskets by 10%, producers large and small must focus on strongly communicating the added value of their brand and capitalise on a growing number of shoppers who are turned off by the supermarket monopolies, says marketing consultant Amy Woolliscroft.

“Diversifying your farm business with an ‘added value’ enterprise is nothing new to farmers and landowners, but now more than ever we must emphasise the added value to the consumer and appeal to shoppers that are increasingly prioritising food provenance, animal welfare and a quality-over-quantity attitude to food,” says Amy.

Amy continues: “Value is no longer just price orientated, with customer experience, provenance, welfare, company ethics and heritage, being important factors in consumer buying decisions. Some consumers also like to ‘show-off’ to peers that they buy respected brands with these priorities in mind.”

With recent Ofcom research showing that British adults spend an average of a whole day each week online, the opportunities to showcase your brand and how it can enhance consumers’ lives on social media, blogs and websites are endless. Amy has put together her top tips to help your rural brand get its value messaging across to a targeted audience in an increasingly challenging food production market:

1) Identify your target audience and their priorities. Your product may be more directed to mums, ‘foodies’, local consumers or city dwellers looking for a taste of the country. Whatever your market, it is important to understand how they shop and what drives them to buy. Follow key influencers on Instagram and join relevant groups on Facebook, anything that can help you get a gauge of what drives their shopping decisions and is on trend all helps form your plan of attack.

2) Formulate a brand strategy. Regardless of your product and who you are trying to reach, it’s important to have a brand strategy and stick to it. This must be true to your products and easily communicated – if you need any help on this, get the experts involved! A marketing and communications consultant is a business investment but will help create a brand that can be believed and maintained, and give you a clear plan of attack.

3) Ensure that you have a working and up to date website and social media platform. Once you know your target audience and what drives them, make sure that you have a good website and presence on Facebook, twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn. Shoppers expect a digital offering from brands and it is a cheap way to communicate your brand on a daily basis. Be consistent with posts to communicate your brand values and constantly review your content.

4) Invest in social media advertising. The growth of social media advertising is astronomical, with a 14.3% year on year rise in online advertising in 2017. All social media platforms offer easy-to-use paid-for advertising options, with budgets from just a few pounds, and tools to really hone and hit a targeted audience. It is also worth getting in touch with key influencers within your audience; if you want to increase sales to families in Rutland, get in touch with a Rutland lifestyle blogger to see if they will do a review of your product on their site. You may have to pay them for it, but influencers are well respected by their followers, so an advert with them is usually good value for money.

The Sainsbury’s and Asda merger will undoubtedly result in a squeeze on pricing for suppliers, but it does also offer an opportunity for farm and rural enterprises to appeal to a growing number of shoppers that are looking outside the big five (soon to be four) supermarket giants.

If you need any support in the best course of action for your business, you can contact Amy Woolliscroft today for a no obligation chat 07858 656444.

GDPR changes – what you need to do by 25th May 2018

With the GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) changes looming, we have put together a summary of facts that you need to know.

Compliance deadline = 25th May 2018

The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) demands greater accountability and transparency from organisations in how they collect, process and store personal information. If you have a database of client data, whether that’s customers that buy your home-reared sausages, or guests that have stopped in your on-farm bed and breakfast, you need to know about GDPR.

The ability to prove compliance to these changes is critical, and a comprehensive and effective privacy compliance framework will develop evidence to support your claims of compliance. In short, ensure you detail the processes you go through to show that you are becoming compliant with the changes.

Summary of changes –

You need to get explicit permission from your EU email database to email them after the 25th of May 2018, once GDPR takes effect. The process of going to a list or email database to establish opt-ins is called ‘permission passing’. You will need to send a series of emails to your client database (aim for three between now and the deadline), charging them to opt in to receiving your mail going forwards. Studies from companies that have already undergone the process have shown that you will see a significant drop in the size of your database as a result of this; however it is crucial to remember that this new database is of a higher quality than your old one, it is made up of people that actually want to hear from you, and are far more likely to become repeat customers. A database of 100 interested people is more valuable to you than one of 5,000 people who just delete your emails when they come in.

Organisations in breach of GDPR can be fined up to 4% of annual global turnover or €20 Million (whichever is greater). Furthermore, should your data be breached at any point, under the GDPR, breach notification will become mandatory in all member states where a data breach is likely to “result in a risk for the rights and freedoms of individuals”. This must be done within 72 hours of first having become aware of the breach.

Part of the expanded rights of data subjects outlined by the GDPR is the right for data subjects to obtain from the data controller confirmation as to whether or not personal data concerning them is being processed, where and for what purpose. If they ask for it, your must also provide any of your data subjects with a copy of their personal data, free of charge, in an electronic format.

Also known as Data Erasure, the right to be forgotten entitles the data subject to have the data controller erase his/her personal data, cease further use of the data, and potentially have third parties halt processing of the data. If someone asks to ‘unsubscribe’ from your emails, their data must be wiped from your records. Full stop.

A Data Protection Officer (DPO) must be appointed within each organisation, and their details provided to the local DPA. This is all part of being able to prove that you have undergone the correct processes.

If you need any help with making the most of the GDPR changes and to ensure you do it correctly, send us an email and our marketing executive would be happy to help.

Time to get your public facing hat on…

As a post-Brexit world draws ever nearer, farmers have a relatively short period of time to position their farms and diversification businesses as ‘doing good’ in order to justify payments out of the public pot alongside an ailing NHS and education system. In such an environment, and with the growth of publicity-hungry vegan warriors, the role of public relations (PR) is certainly one that needs to come into the equation, says marketing and communications executive Amy Woolliscroft, of Northamptonshire-based farm business consultancy Arthey Associates.

“PR is probably something that a lot of farmers haven’t had to think about before, and many will struggle to see the value of presenting a good public image on twitter, for example,” says Amy. “The modern generation of farmers are largely prevalent on social media, but many may not think further than what their peers think of the latest tractor purchase they are posting about, instead of using it to educate and inform the non-farming community.”

“The image that needs to be encouraged, now more than ever, is of farmers as custodians of the environment, nurturing the land around them to support local wildlife and making the countryside accessible to all, as well as producing high-quality British food,” says Amy. “Farmers are brilliant at doing all of these things, but they need to learn to shout about it a bit more to justify public spending.”

Support from the local community is vital and farmers must engage with them as much as possible. When the local primary school contacts you again to ask if the children can come and see the lambs, say yes! These things all require an element of effort and consideration, but engaging local children with the quality and benefit of locally produced food at an early age is vital. Open Farm Sunday is also an opportunity that shouldn’t be missed.

“Facebook, twitter and Instagram are probably downloaded onto your phone but only come into the equation from a personal perspective, however farmers should consider a Facebook page for their enterprise and inviting neighbours and local press to ‘like’ it,” advises Amy. It may seem a bit laborious to start with but creating a page on social media showing all of the positive things your farm is doing, posting several times a week, will enable the local community to see past the inconvenience of mud on the roads at ploughing time.

As we approach an age where farming subsidies are likely to be fighting for a share of the public spending pot, and sections of the vegan movement and environmental extremists seemingly doing all they can to discredit British Farming, it is essential that farmers learn to present a faultless image of public and environmental service. If you are unsure how to go about doing that Arthey Associates can help put together a public engagement plan for your business and would be pleased to discuss your requirements.

For more details please call Amy on 07858 656444 or email Amy Woolliscroft

Diversifying the right way

The latest figures from Defra’s Farm Business Survey indicate 64% of English farms have now diversified into a non-agricultural activity, with total income from diversification now accounting for 29% of the amount generated from all farming activity.

There is plenty of opportunity to diversify, but make sure you get it right by consulting professionals from the get-go to help with business plans, cash flow forecasts, any planning applications required, as well as marketing to make sure your new business gets in front of potential customers.

We can help today.

Email us