Almost a year after the Referendum decision for the UK to leave the EU, a new survey has measured rising business confidence in a positive Brexit outcome amongst small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) in agriculture.
Hitachi Capital Business Finance (HCBF) commissioned a YouGov survey of 1,200 nationally representative agricultural SME owners. Its British Business Barometer research measured confidence levels of 31% in Q1 2017, compared to 13% a year earlier. 52% of respondents were optimistic about opportunities outside the EU – the same as the Referendum result – while nearly one-third believed the greatest benefit will be a reduction in red tape and regulation.
Agricultural confidence has also risen over the last six months – in Q3 2016 only 17% of small agricultural business owners felt confident about their future prospects after the vote to leave. Despite the uncertainty over support payments and labour availability, the survey found optimism over the opportunities that the separation will bring. These included more UK consumers buying British food (25%); the effect of the weaker pound on UK exports (24%) and the ability to form business relationships with non-EU partners (14%). A 14% slice of the sample thought that the UK government will be obliged to do more to support British business outside the EU.
“Our research shows that small business owners in the agricultural sector are thriving under the anticipation of separating from the EU,” states HCBF managing director Gavin Wraith-Carter. “Confidence levels among agricultural SMEs took a dip around the time of the Brexit vote. However, levels have now bounced back to higher than those of a year ago.
“We must support our UK producers and empower farmers to be competitive globally through innovation and the adoption of new technologies. SMEs have the ability to adapt quickly when required and what we are seeing overall – whether or not this reflects their own political beliefs – is a drive to make the best of any outcome to the Brexit situation.”