Farm diversity - farm resilience

Farm diversification – diversifying for farm resilience

Farm diversification can be a great way to add another stream of farm-based income and increase farm resilience. But how do you go about it, find the right idea and courage to pull it off successfully?

Farm diversification featuring in new Keep Agile Keep Farming podcast episodes 

Do you think you have a crazy idea to diversify your farm? In a special of the Keep Agile Keep Farming podcast with two episodes (episodes 3&4) on farm diversification we talk to Victoria Galligan the Editor of the Farm Diversity Magazine and Celia Gaze, Founder of The Wellbeing Farm, which is a farm diversification in Lancashire, United Kingdom that won multiple awards.

Two ladies who have seen and gone through a lot when it comes to farm diversification. We gain insights on trends and how farmers are adapting to current changes and opportunities.

Celia who has gone through the rollercoaster of farm diversification first-hand shares some important do’s and don’ts from her experience and how crazy ideas can change your life and a farm for the better. She is also the author of the book: “Why put a bow tie on a llama?” published in 2020.

Tune in to episode 3 and 4 of the Keep Agile Keep Farming podcast to gain some inspiration and practical advice to turn your idea for farm diversification into a thriving venture that increases your income profitably. Trailer video to episodes 3&4

Definition of farm diversification

Farm diversification is most commonly defined as “the introduction of a non-traditional source of income into the pre-existing farm business”. Agricultural diversification includes the introduction of additional farming enterprises (eg. beef cattle, aquaculture or tomato growing). Non-agricultural diversification, involves incorporating non-farming activity into the farm business (eg. farm-based accommodation, on-farm processing of food, leasing land for non-agricultural purposes).

Why are farms diversifying?

Figures released at the beginning of 2020 revealed that more than half of England’s 57,000 farms have diversified.  A study carried out in the UK revealed that for six out of ten farming families increasing income was the most important reason for diversifying.

Similarly, a study carried out in the United States reported that 61% of farming families diversified for economic reasons, 23% for reasons external to the existing business and 16% for social reasons. Another driver was to increase the value of the farm for its transition to the next generation.

Many forms of diversified activity on the one hand have a far smoother or more steady income profile. On the other hand  they can offer an alternative market for existing agricultural products (e.g. on-farm shops).

In general farm diversification aims to spread risk and smooth cashflows, both of which add value to the farming business by improving and strengthening the economic viability of the business.

Barriers to farm diversification

Connectivity (digital) is still a key barrier in remoter rural areas. Perceived risks in the use of online tools and the costs associated with technology adoption are also barriers.

Innovation and technology adoption are key enablers behind farm diversification. Therefore, the capacity of farmers to capitalise on both farm diversification opportunities and grant-seeking activity may be supported or constrained by access to and skills to absorb and use new technologies. This again to some extent is also influenced by age and education of key decision makers on the farm.

Relevant links

The Farm diversity Magazine 

Book: Why put a bow tie on a llama?: How a crazy idea can change your life and transform your business, published in 2020 by Celia Gaze.   Buy book on amazon. 

The Wellbeing Farm