Skip the NI Direct Bar
Skip navigation

O’Neill launches succession planning seminars

Agriculture and Rural Development Minister Michelle O’Neill has highlighted the importance of farmers putting in place a proper succession plan to protect their farming businesses.
Tuesday, 29 October 2013

The Minister was speaking as she launched a series of CAFRE succession planning seminars designed to provide farmers and the rural sector with information to help them plan for the future.

She said: “No one likes to consider the thought of death, but it is the one certain thing in life that will affect us all and it is important that you have succession plans in place to safeguard your farming businesses, some of which have remained within families for generations. Recent figures have shown that it is estimated that eight out of 10 farmers have yet to identify a successor to their farm business.

“If you do not make a Will your property will be divided amongst your next of kin or relatives in the event of your death, which may lead to disputes within families and even result in the breakup of the farm business and delay any payments that may be due to the business.

“The benefits of making a Will is that it provides certainty and clarity on how your estate will be divided, avoiding the potential for disputes and delays.”

The Minister also reminded farmers of the importance of regularly reviewing any Will to take account of changes in the farm business, family circumstances and changes in the law.

She continued: “It is important that you regularly review any Will you have made and choose a solicitor who understands the specific issues involved in the transfer of a farm business and any updates in the law.

“Wills which were made before Single Farm Payments (SFP) were introduced do not specifically mention SFP or entitlement to SFP. There is, therefore, the potential for this asset to be distributed with the residue of the estate rather than pass to the person who inherits the farm business.

“I would urge farmers and their families to attend one of CAFRE’s information evenings, which will be delivered by qualified solicitors and financial consultants with extensive experience in this area of work, to safeguard their business. Those attending the information sessions will also be able to avail of the most up to date information on inheritance tax and capital gains tax.”

The Information evenings are organised in partnership between CAFRE, the Ulster Farmers’ Union (UFU) and Northern Ireland Agricultural Producers Association (NIAPA). The meetings will be delivered by qualified solicitors and financial consultants with extensive experience in this area of work.

Ulster Farmers’ Union President Harry Sinclair said: “Farming is not just job, it’s a lifestyle and sometimes it can be hard for a farmer to find the time to begin to think about passing the reigns over to the next generation. However, I cannot stress enough how important succession planning is, particularly the legal and financial implications. It does not have to be case of one generation stepping aside. It can be a gradual process and there are many examples of people working together to grow a business, combining the experience of the older generation with the technical knowledge and enthusiasm of the younger generation. Planning for the future and all eventualities is the best way to protect the farm asset and I would encourage farmers, young and old, to attend these events.”

Chair of NIAPA Michael Clarke added: “NIAPA believe forward planning is essential in all aspects of a farming business, not only on the practical side but in relation to succession and the continuity of the farm for future generations. We therefore fully support the planned succession meetings.”

Pre-booking is not required but if you want to find out more information you can contact Technology administration at Greenmount Campus, CAFRE on 028 9442 6770. Alternatively you can contact your locally based CAFRE Development Adviser or UFU/NIAPA office for further information. A full list of the dates and times of the seminars can be found on the DARD website.

Notes to editors:

  1. Also present at the seminars will be representatives from Countryside Agri Rural Partnership who run the Farm Family Options Mentoring Programme. This programme offers free support to assist farm families to identify options and opportunities for the future of the farm family and business. A key objective of the programme is to encourage farm businesses to make good provision in relation to succession planning. To support this there is a grant of £250 available for participants, towards legal or financial advice in this respect.
  2. All media queries should be directed to the DARD Press Office on 028 9052 4619 or email: DARD Press Office. Out of office hours please contact the Duty Press Officer via pager number 07699 715 440 and your call will be returned.