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Less than a fifth of farmers plan to fully retire

Only 19 per cent of farmers plan to fully retire, a new study from the University of Exeter in collaboration with NFU Mutual has found.

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Less than a fifth of farmers plan to fully retire

Out of 700 farmers surveyed, 48 per cent planning to retire or semi-retire will only do so after the age of 70.

Horticulture growers were more likely (96.4 per cent) to have plans for retirement income than both dairy (72.4 per cent) and beef/sheep farmers (77.5 per cent).

Prof Matt Lobley, of the University of Exeter said: “Farming is a way of life and it is an identity.

“Facing up to the reality of stepping back and being no longer in charge tends to put people off.


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“Thinking about handing over management of the business is all a bit daunting. It reminds people they are getting old.

“There is much greater awareness of succession as an issue facing UK agriculture than there was 10-15 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 needed to address.”

The study also revealed 28 per cent of farmers have yet to identify a potential successor and Prof Lobley highlighted there were farmers hanging on to the chequebook into their 70s, with farmers in their 50s who have never signed a cheque before.

“You have to gradually share decision making, so when the successor finally gets to run the farm as a business, they are not thrown into the deep end,” he said.

Sean McCann, charted financial planner at NFU Mutual, said farmers could look to hand over more of the day-to-day management of the business while retaining the ownership of the assets to a later date.

He said: “One option favoured by a lot of farming families is to set up a partnership – which can give the younger generation a stake in the business.”

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