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News & opinion

9 MAY 2019

Lie of the land: rural issues up for debate

The Agriculture Bill, currently going through Parliament, provides an opportunity to clarify key issues currently facing the UK farming and agriculture sector.

While it will take time for a passed Bill to come into effect, and with the uncertainty surrounding the rural sector as the UK prepares to leave the European Union, it is now more crucial than ever to engage and discuss with industry colleagues on how to build resilience in the sector.

Ahead of the RICS Rural Conference 2019, three speakers taking part in the full-day event have shared their thoughts on the biggest issues currently impacting their business and clients.

A new government could prove taxing

Tom Hewitt, Partner, of law firm Burges Salmon who advises clients with land and property on capital gains tax and inheritance said: "There is uncertainty about a change of government, and in particular, what taxation changes a Labour Government might introduce.

"A concern for capital rich clients (whether that is due to owning land or other assets) would be about a wealth tax and harsher taxation on both disposal and inheritance."

"In terms of mitigation, there isn't a great deal that clients can do except if they are contemplating gifts or other transactions, some thought might be given to accelerating the timing in order to have some certainty that the current tax regime applies."

I have never known the outlook for rural professional practice to be more turbulent and uncertain than it is now.

Charles Cowap
Former Principal Lecturer at Harper Adams University

Creating opportunity from uncertainty

Reflecting on 40 years of professional practice, Charles Cowap, formerly a Principal Lecturer at Harper Adams University stated: "I have never known the outlook for rural professional practice to be more turbulent and uncertain than it is now."

"But, this is potentially a time of great opportunity for those in the profession who are far-sighted enough to prepare themselves now. It means being prepared for new commercial opportunities in areas like natural capital, rural business support, asset management all the way up to the possibility of fundamentally reshaping land use management decisions. It also means being prepared to incorporate new technology into our work - anything from drones to new forms of mapping to big data and artificial intelligence."

"We need to keep a vigilant eye on the eternal verities," Charles continued. "Standards, quality of service, client care, effective communication and the constant challenge of balancing the broad view against increasing specialisation - clients will need both."

Environmental challenges for valuation

"Clients are finding it hard to know where to pin the tail on the end of the investment donkey! Because of uncertainties in the market there are less commercial transactions but at the same time those funding partners want greater certainty on environmental externalities." Philip Wilbourn, CEO of Wilbourn & Co Chartered Environmental Surveyors explained.

"Instead of playing lip service to environmental due diligence they are commissioning Environmental Screening Reports since they want the questions raised within the Red Book to be fully addressed."

Share your experiences

There's still time to join the RICS Rural Conference 2019 at the Royal Agriculture University in Cirencester on 19 June

Gain crucial sector updates and debate the challenges and potential solutions to current rural issues. Topics include the challenges and opportunities around Brexit, environmental risks and global valuation, succession planning for farm businesses and trusts and trustees.

Read the full agenda and book your place here

Join the discussion on Twitter using #RICSrural



08:00 AM - 04:45 PM
Date and time:
Wed 19 Jun 2019
From £175 + VAT