Almost half of farm businesses in Northern Ireland have not identified a farming successor with many families finding it difficult to discuss the subject, according to the recent land mobility survey carried out by YFCU and UFU.
In response to this worrying fact, Dunbia has hosted a farm event for young farmers which focused on finance in farming and succession planning.
“The lack of succession planning is a risk to farm businesses and to our industry as a whole and is an issue that needs to be addressed,” explains Dr Jonathan Birnie, Dunbia Head of Agriculture and Research.
“Dunbia organised this event in response to the survey and in particular to over 50% of those without succession planning who stated they would be interested in succession/inheritance advice. It can be a very emotive issue for many families and sometimes, the main stumbling block can be simply how to approach the subject. We hope that this event will give our young farmers the opportunity to raise the subject at home by explaining what they learnt at our event.”
Held at Dunbia Brand Ambassador Rory Best’s family farm in Poyntzpass, the event was led by Des Kelly, partner in Cavanagh Kelly and part-time farmer.
“Succession planning is an extremely complex issue and with every family circumstance different, unfortunately there is no ‘one size fits all’ approach,” explains Mr Kelly.
“The event today was designed to highlight key issues that families need to consider when they are looking towards succession planning such as the timing of admitting the next generation to the business, the best way to do it, and the need to have a thought-out will in place. The need to join up the advice between solicitor and accountant is key to ensure an effective strategy is put in place.”
The event concluded with a Farm Walk guided by Rory Best.
“As Dunbia’s Brand Ambassador, I am honoured to support this event with Dunbia and YFCU,” commented Rory. “While I am currently a professional rugby player, I am a farmer at heart and am fortunate to be involved in our family farm outside of rugby. The issue of succession planning can be a difficult one but I hope that this event has given the young farmers a clearer idea of what they can or should be doing.”
The YFCU supported the succession planning event and Chief Executive Michael Reid welcomed the advice offered to its members: “Our land mobility survey highlighted some worrying statistics not least in relation to succession planning. YFCU is delighted that Dunbia has acted upon these findings and we would like to thank them for their ongoing support of both YFCU and the wider agricultural industry in Northern Ireland. We have no doubt that our members have taken away some very useful advice from the event today.”