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Farm succession. A not so simple affair.

View profile for Elizabeth Young
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DEFRA has published statistics on farmers’ attitudes towards succession planning. The information was collected via the Farm Business Survey for 2013/14.

The key findings were:

  • Just over a third of farm businesses had a nominated successor. For 34% the business would continue within the family. 1% of those responding said that the business would carry on outside the family and for 2% a successor had been nominated but was unable to take over due to tenancy or other restrictions.
  • Just under a third said that it was too early in family or business circumstances to answer. This response was most common for farmers under 40.
  • A further 27% of farm businesses had no nominated successor. This response was most likely from part-time farmers and those in business as sole traders.
  • Of those businesses with a nominated successor or those expected to continue outside the family, the vast majority (94%) said that their successor had a farming background.

Roythornes Comment

It is good to see the issue of succession planning being raised as part of England’s Farm Business Survey. It is, after all, critical to the long-term sustainability of any farming business.

The Future of Farming Review, a joint government/industry group, recently looked at the challenges faced by the whole sector – on both the policy and practical front; its report is here. Julie Robinson, our head of agriculture, was part of the review team (see her top five successful succession planning pointers).

Succession planning is complex, and good planning needs a range of professionals to be involved. It is not just a question of tax planning. It is vital that the right people take over the business, and that other family members ‘buy in’ to the plan, otherwise disputes further down the line are likely.

Nominated successors need to be equipped with the right skills, and contingency plans need to be put in place in case anything happens to prevent them taking over.

Legal structures, property holdings and wills will all need to be reviewed to ensure as smooth a succession as possible.

If you think we can help with your own succession planning, we would be delighted to advise. Please do get in touch with us:-