The emotional and practical challenges of handing a family farm down to the younger generation will be discussed by top national experts in an upcoming online event hosted by the Devon Federation of Young Farmers Clubs (YFC).
The webinar will focus on the need for effective succession planning within family farming businesses; discussing the barriers to having important conversations and how to put the right plans in place.
Set to take place on Monday, January 25, the virtual debate is being supported by leading rural insurer, NFU Mutual.
Matt Lobley, Professor of Rural Resource Management at the University of Exeter, will be drawing upon his findings of 30 years of research with farming families across the UK.
He said: “Retirement and farm succession is often more complex than it sounds and, for most, it’s a very emotional process. Farmers invest their entire working lives in their land and livestock and the idea of handing it over, even to a younger family member, is daunting.”
Professor Lobley’s recent research, commissioned by NFU Mutual to investigate the unique approach farmers take to retirement, showed that just 19% of farmers plan on fully retiring and those that do, retire at a later age than the wider population.
He added: “There is much greater awareness of succession as an issue facing UK agriculture than there was 10 to 15 years ago, but there is still a very pronounced need to move beyond the awareness stage to actually encourage planning. That struck me as something the industry desperately needs to address.”
Sean McCann, chartered financial planner at NFU Mutual, said: “Regardless of when the farm is to be passed on, the aim should be to do it without paying more tax than you need to. Having a plan not only allows for a smoother transition, it can also play a big part in securing the future of the family farm.”
Matt Darke, county chairman of Devon YFC, will be sharing his own personal experiences as part of the discussion. He explained: “As a fourth generation farmer, I know too well the importance of talking about succession and the future of the farm business and I’ll admit this is something we have struggled with in the past.
“Over the generations our farm has changed dramatically, from the move away from a mixed farming setup to a greater focus on dairy, with the recent instalment of our dairy rotary system.
“As families get bigger, succession becomes more of a difficult discussion. Since having children of my own, it has opened my eyes to making sure that the farm business is structured in a way that provides equal opportunity for my children, whilst making sure the business remains in a strong position for years to come.”
The online seminar is part of Devon YFC and NFU Mutual’s commitment to provide an online programme for Devon’s young farmers during the coronavirus lockdown.
The event will be chaired by Rosie Bennett, vice chairman of Devon YFC, who added: “Covid-19 has changed the ways that we all work and now, more than ever, succession planning for family businesses needs be considered. Young farmers have a great opportunity to bring in new ideas to farming businesses and this webinar will help give our members the confidence to approach the discussion of succession.
“In my profession as an agricultural specialist accountant, I know the importance of starting the conversation so that each family member can achieve their own personal goals, whilst also doing what’s best for the business as a whole.”
To register to attend the free online webinar and send in your questions for the panel, please visit the website https://zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_Rby8YKx7T6qLEEvliiFV5w