Keeping it in the family is often one of the most important wishes of the farmer. The land, the business, the farm have often been in his or her family for generations. Planning how the farm is structured and how this dream can smoothly come to pass however, can come very low on the farmers list of priorities. There simply are not enough hours in the day. But in an industry where inter generational links are often very strong, lack of clarity around roles and expectations, particularly where the older generation holds the cheque book, can cause difficulties.
Succession planning is vital. Regular meetings are needed to establish how the farm will provide for a retiring generation and also the non – farming members of the family. Holding such meetings can be tricky between family members, as we know that in families we don’t often confront the difficult questions. In fact, we often like to avoid them.
Family conflict and disagreement can derail discussions and even prevent them entirely.
Some thorny questions might be:
- Do Mum and Dad want to retire? When should they retire?
There can be a strong emotional attachment to the land which may have been in the family for years. It can be extremely difficult to let go
It is better to discuss how the succession might work before the parents or grandparents are no longer able to be involved.
- Who out of the siblings wants to run the farm?
If a sibling has no appetite to do so, then resentments can quickly build. How can siblings be treated fairly?
- What is the best business format going to be?
- How is the land owned and occupied and
- What changes should be made?
And the list is endless. Each family member, whether actively working in the farm or not, has their own expectations, concerns and desires. Communication between the family members is vital to a healthy succession plan which can ensure the business continues and flourishes
Mediation can help the family working dynamic by exploring and understanding the expectations and managing the dialogue within the interested group. If you would like to learn more about how family mediation can help you find a better way to plan for the future, please telephone the office on 01279 211657 for a fully confidential and free, no obligation discussion of your needs and one of our fully accredited mediators will talk you through our step by step mediation process