National Federation of Young Farmers' Clubs

Fun, Learning, and Achievement

26 April 2010

Communication, discipline and accepting and embracing change were the three top issues identified by YFC members as key to ensuring farming family businesses survive and thrive.

Clive Beer, of land agents Savills, told forum delegates farmers had to learn to talk openly and honestly with family members and be proactive about succession planning, adding: "Your destiny, your future can be empowered by you in terms of the decisions you make to affect a change."

"Communication can sometimes be most difficult in family situations. It can feel like we're attacking the people we love, which is the last thing we want to do."

Communication is often particularly difficult on issues where pride and fear are involved, including succession planning, Mr Beer told the forum. "You can end up in a situation where fathers and sons who work together every day can't have an honest conversation."

Time and a third party acting as a facilitator can help make it possible to tackle difficult questions. "I've seen many businesses go into liquidation because one person has kept control and there has been little communication. It's crazy that people don't engage with the change that they know is inevitable, like the CAP and tax legislation. Businesses that respond to this in the right way will have a competitive advantage."

Longer-term planning and strategy is also vital. "If you don't do this, ultimately you won't have a business. The people who are successful are those who can see the big picture, as well as being able to drill down into the detail."

After a lively discussion on the subject, the breakout group fed back through NFYFC agriculture and rural affairs steering group (ARAC) vice chairwoman Milly Wastie that farmers needed to find time to talk, plan and look at the bigger picture and not ignore the subject of succession out of fear of the future. YFC members felt formal minuted meetings would help families be disciplined about their business planning and that joint ventures, help with signposting and knowledge would help farm businesses to embrace change.

Future training around the subject of making difficult decisions will now be looked at by the NFYFC ARAC steering group.

The debate on successful farming futures was one of three topics under the microscope at this year's ARAC Forum at the NFYFC annual convention in Torquay.



Designed by Kevyn Williams