Fail to plan or plan to succeed with Farm Business Management

Farming professionals are being urged to enrol on the AFTP’s popular Farm Business Management course, which starts on May 15 2019. The closing date for enrolment on the distance learning course, which is delivered online and runs from May to August 2019, is April 30th 2019.

Latest survey data reveals that most farmers only produce an informal business plan, indicating that many could benefit from developing skills that help them plan key activities more thoroughly.

The AFTP’s Farm Business Management course develops the practical, financial and decision-making skills farm professionals need to create a successful farm business plan.

Dr Neil MacKintosh, Lecturer at Department of Biological, Environmental and Rural Sciences at Aberystwyth University, is leading the course.

He says: “We want to make business management skills as accessible as possible, so the course is taught entirely online. There is no requirement to attend lectures on campus. 

“Rather than offering generic business planning techniques, the Farm Business Management course is tailored specifically for farms. We also use UK-specific farming examples.”

The farm business plan

The ability to develop, analyse, carry out and revise farm business plans is essential for modern farm management techniques.

Participants will be taught how to develop a robust and logical plan and be given the task of creating a plan of their own using the university’s unique interactive online farm business. Participants will also consider how to deal with risk and uncertainty, changing policies and markets, setting objectives and making decisions, as well as presenting their business plan once it is complete.

Improve financial and risk management practices

The report on the Defra 2018/17 Farm Business Survey, published in 2018, found that 83 per cent of farms undertook at least one of the following: business planning, benchmarking and management accounting practices. The most common practice (59 per cent) was producing an informal business plan.

The AFTP Farm Business Management course is ideal for farmers who are currently producing an informal plan, or who are not currently using one.

The report also found that a third of farm businesses produced budgets, gross margins, cash flows or in-depth profit and loss accounts, up from 25 per cent in 2011/2012.

Three quarters of farm businesses undertook one or more risk management practices, particularly dairy and cereal farms.

Neil MacKintosh says: “The Defra Farm Business Survey gives us a good insight into what farms are currently doing, and what training needs they may have.

“Our fourteen-week Farm Business Management course is the right length to include plenty of detail, it is easily accessible and is designed to give farmers exactly what they need to produce a successful business plan.

“It’s a great environment to test ideas and techniques, interact with other people facing the same issues, and come out at the end with a useful document that the participant can work from straight away.

Module is part of a postgraduate qualification

The Farm Business Management module can also contribute towards two postgraduate degrees, the MSc in Sustainable and Efficient Food Production and the MSC in Food Security in a Changing Environment.

For more information, contact the AFTP on 033 0333 4530 or via email.

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