Colleagues from Brodies were delighted to participate in this year's AgriScot event at the Royal Highland Centre, Ingliston, where Brodies and Royal Bank of Scotland hosted a seminar on "Business Resilience – legal and financial tools for navigating your business through economic uncertainty".

Philip Bartlett of RBS commenced the seminar with an informative talk on the current economic outlook. The state of the economy and impact this is having on rural businesses is a concern across the sector, and it was helpful to have an insight into what the sector might expect in the coming months.

The theme continued with Roddy McLean, Director of Agriculture at RBS who gave advice on what businesses can do to protect themselves against economic challenges. He emphasised the importance of seeking professional advice early, and highlighted what banks can do to support their clients through these uncertain times.

Our Head of Rural Business Clive Phillips discussed the actions rural businesses can take to prepare and respond to challenges. Present challenges for rural businesses include economic difficulties, legal and policy uncertainty (for example land and agricultural policy reform) and climate (including the transition to net zero and changing weather patterns). Clive outlined some of the tools available in responding to such challenges, for example business restructuring, succession planning and diversification. He highlighted that by planning ahead, businesses can ensure that they are in the best shape to face into what headwinds may come.

Finally, our Graeme Leith, who leads the forestry practice at Brodies, spoke on participation in the green economy. It was exciting to hear about the myriad of opportunities that this presents for rural businesses. Graeme discussed renewable energy opportunities that may be available to rural businesses, including wind energy, solar and battery storage. He also outlined opportunities arising from the forestry sector. New tree planting in Scotland is set to increase, with a particular focus on planting native woodland. There are opportunities (as well as risks) for rural businesses arising from carbon sequestration, and looking ahead we can expect to see more efforts to promote and encourage biodiversity.

The seminar provided a thought-provoking insight into the challenges and opportunities that the rural sector may experience in the months and years to come, and how we can prepare, respond and make the most of what lies ahead.