Succession - The Need to Talk and Listen
Updated: Jan 31, 2022
Once upon a time there were two brothers, very healthy and in their late sixties, one had no children, the other had a son who was in the partnership and the main driving force behind the successful farming business. The land was owned evenly between the two brothers and not the partnership and was therefore not a partnership asset. Suddenly one of the brother's died(the one without children)leaving his surviving brother and nephew to run the farm. However, when the will was read it revealed a shock, the land that he owned, representing almost half of the farm, had been left to a distant cousin. They had never in their lives discussed succession.
Even when there is no immediate succession event, usually death, but occasionally and sadly, incapacity, lack of communication between the various members of a farming business can store up problems as this monologue illustrates:
I used to be an Agricultural Bank manager and several years ago both I and one of my colleagues had almost identical conversations with clients within the space of a month; that is, the younger generation had asked us to talk to their father because they no longer wished to farm any more.
As businesses and people change it is perfectly normal that different members of that business have changing priorities and expectations as to what they want from that business both in the form of purpose and income. It is also normal for people to change what they wish to do in life. However, all to often those, sometimes difficult, conversations are not had. Both professionals and charities like Farm Community Network can help (see link) https://farmwell.org.uk/succession-planning/
But, above all else it requires people to both talk and listen to each other.
Have you discussed succession in your farming business?