The Hammond family has had an ongoing and open succession plan for three generations, an approach which has allowed the younger generation to develop and expand the business.
For as long as he can remember, Powys farmer Stuart Hammond says planning has been a core part of his farm life.
“Ever since I could walk I was being taken to meetings with the bank manager,” says Stuart.
The 35-year-old mixed farmer is the third generation of his family to farm near Llandrindod Wells, Powys, thanks to well managed and ongoing succession plans which began with his grandparents.
Stuart and his brother Eddie farm 364 hectares (900 acres) in partnership with their uncle Malcolm and their mum Sharon, who both own 50 per cent of the business. As well as arable land, they have 520 beef cattle and 580 sheep.
Quackers, a children’s play business, was started as a diversification in the 1990s and is managed by Sharon. This will be inherited by Stuart’s sisters, who work outside farming, while the farm will be inherited by Stuart and Eddie.
Their other uncle now farms separately with his share of the farm, having split off several years ago more independence.
Sadly, succession plans for Stuart and Eddie were accelerated by the early death of their father
Michael. Stuart is all the more keen to start conversations early with his own children, currently aged eight and six.
“It’s a complex thing, succession,” he says. “But sticking your head in the sand isn’t going to help. We’ve always talked about it and there have been difficult moments, but we’ve always come to an agreement.”
Succession planning should always involve the younger generation, says Stuart.
“I’ve got a fair bit of drive and I want to push things forward. Succession has always been something in our family that has allowed the young to get on.”
Sometimes this means pushing though, so things can progress; the brothers started a poultry and energy business, although not everyone was convinced it would want.
“Dad was dead against the poultry business. He said to the solicitor he was a ‘conscientious objector’, but it’s always been my attitude that the younger generation has to drive forwards.”
Being taken to farm meetings with the bank manager or accountant from an early age really helped with his understanding of the farm and business, says Stuart. Not involving children in this way can limit them, he adds.
“When I was 16 at college I was in a farm business lecture and I remember a friend who had grown up on-farm but didn’t understand much of the lecture. He said his dad had sent him out of the room every time the bank manager came round. I was shocked.”
Not embracing the younger generation stifles innovation and the success of a business, believes Stuart.
Shape Your Farming Future is a series of informative and practical guides looking in-depth at issues pertinent to farmers when planning for the future.