'I wanted to know what our future looked like'
It can be difficult to start a conversation about passing the family farm onto the next generation, but if the talks are held in the right way it can provide security for everyone.
For Milly and Andrew Fyfe, their desire to put down roots and plan for a family led them to start discussions about the future of the family’s beef, sheep and arable farm.
“There was always an assumption that one day Andrew would take full responsibility of the farm and we would live at the main farmhouse,” says Milly, who is business development manager at the UK Leather Federation but helps out on the farm at busy times.
“However, there was never any discussion about when that would be.”
Attending the Worshipful Company of Farmers Challenge in Leadership course got Milly thinking about the future of the business and gave her the impetus to start talking about the family’s plans more seriously.
“I wanted to know what our future was going to look like, and where we should be investing our time and money into creating a family home,” she says.
The discussions involved deciding that the couple should move into the main farmhouse, putting them in a better position to take a more hands-on approach to managing the farm.
And while the long-term considerations around the structure of the business and its finances are still being discussed, for the moment the couple feel more confident about their role on the farm.
“The here and now we have ironed out,” she says. “We are making decisions, replenishing livestock and machinery, and putting a long-term plan in place. We’re getting there, but it’s a continual process that we need to keep reviewing.
“You hear of so many families falling out over succession, and the only person who benefits is the solicitor,” she adds. “By being open to conversation, everyone knows what the options are and what we need to do to capitalise on any opportunities.”
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