Despite clothing, food and wood-burner stands drawing in equally as many families and day trippers as farmers to county agricultural shows these days, the trade tents where lawyers, accountants and agronomists are on hand to offer advice are still as busy as ever.
GHP Legal, one of the region’s largest law firms, has been attending the Oswestry Show for many years. Partner Richard Lloyd, who heads up the Agricultural team, says: “Farming isn’t just a job, it’s a way of life and its success affects not just businesses but also the future of whole farming communities for generations to come. Having the right kind of integrated support and advice to protect businesses, and families, is vital and these days there is a new focus on diversification.”
The uncertainty of BREXIT can in part be blamed for the diversification Richard talks about. From niche food production to growing flowers for wedding confetti, farmers are looking for in-roads to a more secure future. One of the biggest problems they face, however, is a host of restrictive covenants governing the use of their land, something Richard says his firm is receiving a growing number of enquiries about.
“We get enquiries about business property relief (BPR), the employment status of farm workers, succession planning etc.,” he says, “but more and more farmers are seeking advice on how they can develop their land – for housing; for self-catering holiday units; for small industrial units to lease out. However, restrictive covenants often exist that can prevent such developments and farmers want to know how to remove them.
“More recently the change from Stamp Duty Land Tax (SDLT) to Land Transaction Tax (LTT) that kicked in on 1st April 2018 in Wales has been causing headaches for farmers, particularly where they have cross-border land. And of course there is the problem of land registration. Land owned before 1990 that has not since been mortgaged is unlikely to be registered at the Land Registry and farmers need to get it registered asap. If they visit the GHP Legal stand at the Oswestry Show on 4th August we can advise them how to go about it.”
(Article July 2018)