Farm Ireland
Independent.ie

Tuesday 25 September 2018

Marriage split fears holding back farm handovers to next generation

Majority of dairy farmers said potential marital breakdown of their successor was one of their biggest concerns. Stock image.
Majority of dairy farmers said potential marital breakdown of their successor was one of their biggest concerns. Stock image.
Claire Fox

Claire Fox

The risk of a successor’s marriage breaking down is one of the biggest factors preventing dairy farmers from handing on land to the next generation, according to new research.

“For dairy farmers marital breakdown of a successor is a serious concern -  they are worried that if a divorce were to take place that it would split the farm,” Teagasc  researcher Brian Leonard told the Farming Independent.

“Many said that they might hold off on transferring the farm to a successor and see how the marriage goes and keep the farm in their name for a while.

 “I didn’t bring up the topic of marital breakdown with the farmers, so I was surprised that it was brought up. I think more dairy farmers spoke about it because their assets are higher or maybe they might have heard of more experiences of marital breakdown in their area,” said Mr Leonard.

Mr Leonard interviewed 12 beef farmers in the west and 12 dairy farmers in the south of the country to discuss the perception of financial risks surrounding succession and inheritance.

Concerns differed between the two groups and a majority of dairy farmers said potential marital breakdown of their successor was one of their biggest concerns.

The cost of long-term nursing home care was a concern for dairy farmers who were worried that it would cost them over €1,000 a week.

Tax issues were a major worry for western farmers when transferring land.

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“The majority of beef farmers were very concerned that they would be lumped with a huge tax bill when transferring the land, or that it would be a serious debt burden, but there are lots of reliefs in place that can be availed of with careful planning that can help minimise risk.”

Beef farmers also said that their sons or daughters who might be possible successors were unable to get employment in the west but hope that they would get work after a few years’ experience elsewhere.

Meanwhile, dairy farmers said that in most cases their possible successors returned to work on the farm after completing a degree or attending agricultural college.

Mr Leonard recommended that a scheme be but in place to encourage a gradual succession process. “There are schemes in place for young farmers looking to enter farming but very little for older farmers exiting. It’s not about pushing older farmers out. Succession can’t happen overnight, it has to be gradual.”

Mr Leonard’s research was funded by the Teagasc Walsh Fellowship programme and the Royal Dublin Society.

A nationwide series of Teagasc ‘Transferring the Family Farm’ meetings begin on September 25 with the first seminar in the Ballygarry House Hotel in Tralee, Co Kerry.

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