What if you can’t even get around the table to talk about future plans, how do you take the situation forward?

A chat with Mags Granger, welfare office with RSABI, gives an insight into the problems that the farming community faces when it comes to succession, she offers some tips on avoiding the pitfalls.

Mags says: “We get calls to our helpline about this subject. People who are worried about their future. Phoning us gives callers a chance to speak to a stranger about a subject that they may not feel able to talk about to the person in charge just yet. It encourages them to start thinking about having the conversation.”

Mags continues: “If you take farming out of it, it’s just a will. Succession is really the business aspect of it.

“Often we have younger members of the family phoning, unsure of what the future holds, what if they are left the farm; what if they are not; they work the farm every day and their siblings don’t go near it, are they due an equal share?

“Also concerns over their parents not allowing any changes to the way the farm is run to make it viable – it’s difficult to deal with a mindset that says ‘This is way it has always been done, and we are not changing it’. All of these issues are difficult to deal with until a conversation has been started.”

RSABI has plenty in their toolbox to deal with such issues, one of which is to suggest professional mediation. They have access to companies that will sit down with the family and talk through concerns, issues and future plans.

Mags says: “Phone and talk to us first, so that we can find out what your perception of the problem is. We find that there are three versions of any issue. There is one persons, the other persons and the right persons.

“You may find that you don’t need mediation, just some pointers on how to best deal with the issues at hand. But if you do need help, we can offer professional help locally to you, we can also pay for it, if there is a financial issue.”

Mags continues: “I think it’s a good thing to ask yourself, what would you want to happen today, if you died yesterday? Who would you want to be running the farm, who would you want to get this and that. What do you perceive happening? Have you thought about your business – which may have been in your family for generations – and how you perceive it going forward? If you haven’t put together a succession plan it will be out of your hands, you won’t have any input in that decision.”

RSABI often advises callers to use a pack from Heather Wildman, which gives some ideas on how to go about the process, what you should be thinking about to get you through the procedure. It’s worth remembering, the more decisions you can work out for yourselves, the less work a lawyer will have to do, and that means less costs.

It is worth remembering that you really shouldn’t be forcing a farm on someone who doesn’t want it. You might end up forcing a sale of the business, I’m sure the one thing you didn’t want to happen. It really is in your hands to have the conversation and get plans in place sooner rather than later… or more correctly, it may be too late.

RSABI helpline is: 0300 111 4166

Succession roadshows

Women in Agriculture: Argyll – success planning

Do you have a succession plan in place for your business? Do you know what the hopes and dreams of everyone involved in the business are?

This workshop will outline the many benefits of having a succession plan. It will also equip you with some tactics so you can begin discussing this sometimes-sensitive topic with your family; and prepare your business for the future.

Lunch will be provided, and booking is essential for catering. Booking essential

November 6, 2019, at 10:30am - 2:30pm at Loch Fyne Hotel & Spa, Inveraray PA32 8XT


Women in Agriculture: Lothians – Succession

When families start the conversation before there are health, money or other tensions, we can see rationally and see things from other people’s perspectives. This opens up doors and opportunities, and people have time to adjust. Plans can be helped to accommodate and adapt. People relax, feel happier and more in control. This interactive workshop will look at how to start those difficult conversations, give tips to avoid conflict and provide you with a list of things to consider when succession planning. Booking essential.

Speakers: Heather Wildman, Saviour Associates and Ian Craig, Campbell Dallas.

November 6, 2019, at 7-9.30pm, at Craigie's Farm , South Queensferry, Edinburgh EH30 9AR


Farm Advisory Service webinars

For more advice and help, the Farm Advisory Service offers webinars online that gives valuable advice.

Succession Planning – crofting

The video below by former Commissioner Mr I G MacDonald is full of good advice about croft succession.  The video covers important issues such as: do you want to undertake a living transfer; or, do you want to state who you wish your croft to go to in your will. Life is uncertain so we would always recommend that any croft tenant or owner occupier has an up to date will that makes their wishes known.