National Federation of Young Farmers' Clubs

Fun, Learning, and Achievement

26 June 2019

Being open and honest were highlighted as key priorities for farming families during a debate about succession, organised by NFYFC and supported by Defra at Cereals 2019. 

The event, which involved experts from Savills, succession facilitator Siân Bushell and young farmers, was held on the first day of Cereals in June. The panel and audience discussed personal challenges they had faced with succession and the experts offered tips on ways to move forward.

Speaking during the debate, Siân Bushell explained why succession was a conversation all family businesses needed to have.

“It’s the future of the business but it’s the future of the family as well, so it’s incredibly important to sit down and have that conversation,” said Siân. “If you can’t manage it yourselves get some support as there are lots of organisations out there that can help. Don’t bury it and think it’s going to go away because it won’t. Treat it positively – another generation wants to carry on the business. Be open and honest from an early stage and keep on talking about it.”   

Ashley Lilley who is a director in Savills’ Food and Farming team encouraged everyone to make those first important (and often free) enquiries to help get started with succession issues – and highlighted the guides available on the NFYFC website. Georgina Sweeting, a farm business consultant from Savills, and a former member of East Riding of Yorkshire FYFC, joined Ashley on the panel and highlighted the importance of future planning for young farmers.

“It’s important to discuss with your parents and grandparents from the very beginning what you want to get out of farming, if you even want to farm or if you want to do something completely different,” said Georgina. “That way, everyone knows where they stand and what’s going on. Then after that you can consider bringing in the professionals.”

AGRI Vice Chairman George Baxter from Cambridgeshire reflected on his personal situation and advised other young farmers to talk to their families about their aspirations.

“Don’t be afraid to go off and do your own thing but make sure you have the conversations with your family beforehand in case you ever want to come back. If you don’t talk about it no one knows what’s going on and it could create a disconnect between you and your family.” 

The debate, which was chaired by AGRI Chairman David Goodwin, also included a showing of the video We Really Need to Talk, which raises awareness of the need for succession planning and was recorded last year with the support of Defra and AHDB.


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