‘Be prepared for Brexit’ was the message to farmers and rural business owners at a seminar in Cornwall.

Speakers urged farmers to use the next four years of ‘relative certainty’ to take stock of their businesses and develop a medium term plan.

The event, organised by accountancy firm PKF Francis Clark, law firm Stephens Scown LLP and property consultants Savills, was held at the Royal Cornwall Showground, Wadebridge.

It was the latest in a bi-annual series of seminars organised by the three firms and designed to bring the agricultural sector together to discuss and examine topical issues.

Key matters covered at the latest event included the response of the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) to the June 23 referendum and how the run-up to 2020 will be managed. The government has guaranteed it will fund current EU subsidies until at least 2020.

Also under discussion were agricultural policy opportunities for the future, an examination of up to date research data on the farmland market and analysis of how farms could ensure they were ready for life after 2020.

Brian Harvey, Head of Agriculture, PKF Francis Clark, said: “Our message to farmers is simple. Make the most of the period of relative certainty up to 2020 to consider all aspects of your farm business and develop a medium term plan for implementation after 2020.”

Phil Reed, Head of Rural Services, Stephens Scown LLP, examined what UK farming policy could look like after Brexit.

He said: “While there are still many areas to be clarified, we know that big changes will come in the areas of direct support, trade, regulation and labour and these will depend on whether we have a ‘soft’ or ‘hard’ Brexit. There will be opportunities for farming businesses, but also challenges.”

Gareth Rowe, Director, Savills, said: “Predicting the implications of Brexit on farming businesses is far from straightforward. However, by examining the measurable impact of changing tariffs, currency fluctuations and labour movements on areas such as livestock and fresh produce prices, land values and subsidy payments, we can at the very least monitor what is happening and take a measured view on where to go from here.”