PRACTICAL guidance to stay 'one step ahead' of the coronavirus crisis has been offered to farmers by a regional head of agriculture at a major bank.

Stephen Buchan, who covers Cumbria, Northumberland and southern Scotland at Clydesdale and Yorkshire Bank, said: “Farming is a long-term enterprise. Crops cannot be turned off and cows cannot be furloughed.

"So a major national emergency such as Covid-19 has to be dealt with against a continuous production cycle. Therefore, farmers have to react to difficult circumstances and keep adapting their business to the unexpected."

Mr Buchan's practical advice for staying 'one step ahead' includes:

- Discuss financial accounts with an accountant and professional advisors, as they may require further analysis.

- Keep a 'rolling forward budget' in place to understand the likely outcome for the year, and include some form of cash flow.

- Look at the 'what if' consequences for changes to inputs and outputs; for example, varying milk prices.

- Carefully evaluate the effects of significant expenditure or commitment to longer-term finance on equipment and buildings.

- Don't ignore any problems.