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Farming: Annual Scottish farm business survey seeks your input

By David Porter

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Farmers across the country are being asked to contribute to an annual survey - which provides an in-depth focus on the state of agriculture in Scotland - at a time when reports suggest 56 per cent of farms would have made a loss in 2021/22 without support.

SAC Consulting will deliver the annual survey.
SAC Consulting will deliver the annual survey.

The Scottish Farm Business Survey (SFBS) is designed to help farmers with their business financial performance, as well as support the Scottish Government’s future agricultural policy decisions.

SFBS has been running since the 1930s and is a detailed economic study of 400 farm businesses in Scotland.

The data is gathered by the Farm Business Analyst team at SAC Consulting and delivered to the Scottish Government every December.

SAC Consulting, part of Scotland Rural College (SRUC), is again leading the survey development on behalf of the Scottish Government.

This work is a key data source for important national statistical information that informs policy-making decisions and has a value for everyone involved in Scottish agriculture.

Results from the 2021-22 survey highlighted a significant increase in Farm Business Income (FBI) or net profit across all farm types from more than £39,300 to £50,000 in 2020-21, but without industry-wide support, 56 per cent of farms would have made a loss in the same period.

The results also highlight that dairy farming had an average income estimated at £162,100 – its highest value since 2012.

Principal Consultant at SAC Consulting, Sascha Grierson, said: “We know that businesses which benchmark their financial information improve their business performance compared to their peers.

“Participation in the survey will do the number crunching for you so that you can then make those all-important decisions on costs and outputs for your business.”

One farmer, who previously took part in the survey, said: “We have been part of the Scottish Farm Business Survey for more than 10 years, and I can say our participation has had a positive impact on our business profitability.

“The information in our annual Farm Business Report is presented in a manner that is more detailed than our annual set of tax accounts and it has made us stop, think and act to help us manage our costs.”

The Scottish Farm Business Survey (SFBS) is a voluntary scheme.

Farming businesses opt to join and then receive a range of outputs personal to their farm.

Each farm is allocated to a Farm Business Analyst (FBA) who is personal to the business and with whom SAC Consulting envisage will build a productive working relationship with over time.

Participants are asked to send the most recent set of annual accounts in digital format by email, and some back up paper documents as necessary.

This is followed up with a farm visit (which can be done online if preferred) with some questions. This will take no more than two hours.

In return SAC Consulting will deliver-

The farm business report: This set of detailed management accounts will help you truly understand your business finances and, as you progress from year to year in the survey, will allow you to track your performance over the most recent three-year period.

Performance benchmarking report: A business planning tool that allows you to compare your business with other similar type and size of business, and to track progress year on year.

A whole farm carbon audit: This will help you better understand your business in the round and may help with grant applications.

SAC Consulting is offering a 25 per cent discount on a Xero bookkeeping subscription to any business joining the survey. Survey staff, who are based in offices all over Scotland, are trained in using online accounting software package Xero, and can offer one-to-one support to get businesses set up in Xero if they join the survey.

Farmers who wish to participate in this year’s survey should visit: Scottish Farm Business Survey for more information.

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