Planning for succession

The View from Northern Ireland: To date, more than 400 farmers and farm families have attended the succession planning events organised by College of Agriculture, Food and Rural Enterprise (CAFRE) with support from the Ulster Farmers Union (UFU) and the Northern Ireland Agricultural Producers Association.

On the night presentations are given by professionals from the legal and financial sectors, who cover topics included, making a will and having a plan to transfer assets to the next generation, as well as making financial provision for retirement; all with a backdrop of inheritance tax implications. They also highlight the importance of discussing succession plans with family members and professional advisers and doing so sooner rather than later.

It is estimated that a high proportion of farm business owners in Northern Ireland have neither a will in place or identified a successor. Failure to have a proper succession plan in place can prove costly to the farm business and family farm.

Alan McCann, NFU mutual financial adviser, stated: “Farming families need to discuss the issues before illness or a sudden death forces the issue. There is lots of help available from their financial advisers, solicitors and accountants and they should take advantage of their experience in this area. Our advice is to make decisions early and to back these up with plans to make sure what they want to happen happens.

“Feedback from farmers has been positive with farmers agreeing that they need to offer encouragement to the next generation to come into the family business. They need to join the business with long term views and be able to help secure the continuity of the family business.”

It is evident by the number of farm family members attending these meetings that there is a real appetite for this type of training with in the rural community. Another fourteen meetings will be taking place in locations across Northern Ireland and will be running from now through to February 2014. Each of the evening meetings will be delivered by solicitors and financial consultants with extensive experience in this area of work. In addition, Countryside Agri Rural Partnership staff will also be present to discuss funding opportunities with regard to succession planning.

There is no need to book your place, but if you want to find out more, you can contact technology administration at Greenmount Campus, CAFRE on 028 9442 6770. A list of events can be found on

Pictured Alan McCann, NFU Mutual Financial Adviser, Coleraine, with Fergus and John Harbinson and Melissa Knox from Limavady

By Jason McFerran, Senior Business Technologist, CAFRE