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‘Because we had already made our succession plans, it was all very straightforward’

Kick-starting the conversation around what the future of the farm will look like and who will be involved – and in what capacity – is often an unwanted and intimidating topic for many farming families. 

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‘Because we had already made our family succession plans, it was all very straightforward’

And it covers a large area. Decisions need to be made on tricky subjects such as what happens when mum and dad retire, or if one of them passes away?


What if there is a break-up in the family, and what happens to brothers and sisters who are not in the farm partnership or do not want to farm?


The lack of wanting to discuss the matter is not uncommon.

 

Figures suggest more than 60 per cent of farm businesses have no succession plan in place – and that one quarter do not have a nominated successor.


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Experts suggest an easy first step on the journey is simply to start the conversation.


Essex farmer Ed Ford, 29, who was given a 13.75 per cent share of the family business on returning from university, said it was good to be open with the family and that is has also helped financial planning.

 

Straightforward

His brother was also given an equal share of the business and they both have control over financial decisions, and are regarded as equal partners in future planning decisions.


The brothers are also already starting to talk about plans for the next generation.


Mr Ford said: “We have always talked about succession in our family – not just because of tax reasons but also because my parents were genuinely interested to know if we wanted to take on the farm in the future.

“When my grandfather died three years ago, because we had already made our family succession plans, it was all very straightforward and took any extra pain away from what was already an emotional time.”


He recommended seeking professional advice from external advisors to help encourage conversations around ways to divide up the business.


“At the end of the day, we are running a business and you need to put the proper steps in place to protect it,” he said.

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