Fluctuating prices, subsidy changes and ongoing Brexit negotiations mean that farmers are unable to predict their future income. To spread their risk, many in the agricultural sector are diversifying by developing other businesses at their farms to add additional income streams.
Farm locations have the potential to serve the tourist market. Caravan parks, glamping, farm shops holiday lets, bed and breakfast and cafes are ways in which farmers can earn extra money. Non-tourist uses include garden centres, workshops and storage buildings.
To facilitate a tourist-based business, existing farm buildings may need converting, new property built or nearby buildings purchased. Even if a farmer does not want to operate a new business, they can invest in a planning application for the change of use of land and buildings. This will increase the value of their property if they decide to split their farm and sell the portion with planning permission. Planners generally look favourably on planning applications to bring redundant empty agricultural buildings back to use.
An example of a mixed-use farmhouse is Overton Farm in Ayrshire which is for sale at £575,000. One of the farm buildings has been converted to a coffee shop and there is a garden centre business operating on the land. There are additional agricultural buildings that could be developed into workshops or storage facilities.
Farmers with a sound business plan can find lenders to provide development loans and commercial mortgages for farm property that can be used for alternative commercial businesses.