ONLY about one in three farm businesses have a nominated successor, according to revealing survey results on succession published by Defra this week.
Results from 2013/14 Farm Business Survey showed 37 per cent of farms surveyed had a nominated successor, mainly from within the family.
Succession planning was more likely among older farmers, very large farms, farming companies and family based partnerships.
Only 1 per cent said the business would continue outside the family, with 34 per cent saying the business would continue within the family. For 2 per cent a successor had been nominated but was unable to take over yet due to tenancy or other restrictions.
Of those with succession plans, 94 per cent said the successor had a farming background.
But more than a quarter, 27 per cent, had no nominated successor, a response more likely among part-time farmers and sole traders.
A significant proportion, 29 per cent, said it was too early in their family or business to answer. Not surprisingly, this response was most common for farmers under 40.
CLA president Henry Robinson said the figures highlighted farmers’ reluctance to think and talk about succession.
He said: “It is difficult but it’s too important to ignore. The timely handover of a farm from one generation to the next is vital to ensure it remains stable and productive, as well as for the wellbeing of the family.
“It is also essential for the industry as a whole that new and younger entrants are given an opportunity.”
He said early planning is key to success and highlighted succession options often discussed by his organisation, including the creation of partnerships and trusts, or taking full retirement.
“Another possibility is to enter into a Share Farming agreement, which provides a middle ground where an ageing farmer can start to wind down but can still pass on years of knowledge and experience to their successor,” he added.
“Every family and business situation is unique and farm owners should seek professional advice to develop a succession plan that works for their business and their family.”