Not having a natural successor is a concern for many farmers but Co. Donegal man, Billy McMahon, found a solution by leasing out the dairy farm that had been handed down to him by his father.
Having taken part in a ‘Men on the Move‘ programme at Ray Community Centre by Donegal Sports Partnership in conjunction with the HSE in 2015, he shed three stone and developed a passion for cycling and running.
“I decided there was more to life than milking cows and my wife Anne and I bought a campervan. She drives and I pedal,” he said.
With his son having studied history and his daughter having recently graduated in aerospace engineering, neither had an interest in taking over the farm. He decided to lease the land through the Land Mobility brokerage service and is delighted with the new arrangement.
This has given Billy and Anne, who is a part-time vet with the Department of Agriculture in Northern Ireland (DAERA), the chance to travel throughout this country, with plans to work with charities in Africa in the future.
“A lot of people thought I was crazy to be leasing the farm at around 54-years-of-age but this was something we had been thinking about for at least five years. We were gearing towards it; we didn’t rush into it,” said Billy.
Being able to avail of tax-free income was one of the positives of leasing, he said.
“It was also important that this would remain a dairy farm and stay in the family. Both my father and myself put a lot of effort into the farm. He bought the farm in the 60s and we wanted it to be farmed the same way. Leasing is the solution for us.
“Because our children are not interested in taking over the farm, we wanted an income stream there for them. Through leasing, the farm will remain in the family name.”
Revelling in his new freedom, Billy was able to cycle around Ireland in July to raise funds for his local tidy towns committee. In September, he cycled in the North Coast 500 in Scotland.
Leasing proven to be the perfect solution
“People ask me how it’s going and my reply is that I’m so happy. I’m really enjoying life. It also gives me great pleasure to see Christopher who leased the farm from me, getting on well,” he continued.
“I do maintenance work such as spreading slurry and fertiliser for him, and he pays me for it. That keeps me in touch with the land.
“I retained most of the machinery and I use it to work for him. Another big positive is that he bought my stock as well as bringing his own stock with him.
“It was a seamless process and was all built into the lease. It also meant that I didn’t see years of breeding going down the road to the local mart.
“I have to say the Land Mobility service is fantastic. I couldn’t recommend it highly enough. I would say to anyone thinking of leasing to have a conversation with them. An agreement can be tailor made for any situation.”