Importance of Succession Planning Highlighted at Borders Monitor Farm Meeting

Stuart, Lesley and Robert Mitchell from Whitriggs Farm

The next meeting of the Borders Monitor farm on Wednesday 7th November will focus on the important, but sometimes sensitive, subject planning for the future, including succession.

At the meeting, which will be held at Auld Cross Keys Hotel at Denholm and begin at 10am, Heather Wildman from Saviour Associates will run an interactive session on future planning, having a vision and business succession.

“Succession planning is seen by many as a sensitive subject and many farmers are reluctant to start the process in case it causes conflict amongst their family members,” said Mrs Wildman. 

She added: “Farmers are also incredibly busy people so it can be difficult to find the time to consider long term succession planning. However, it makes sense to have a plan in place well in advance to help secure the success of your business for the next generation.”

Mrs Wildman, who has published ‘The Saviours Guide to Succession’ aimed at farmers, acknowledges that every farm business and situation is different, and it is important that each business develops a succession plan that works for them.

The meeting will address some of the reasons why those involved in farming often avoid planning for succession and suggest some questions farmers should ask themselves at that start of the process. 

“By the end of the meeting I hope that attendees will understand how the process works and and be able to create an action plan for the succession of their own businesses as well as equip themselves to implement these future plans,” added Mrs Wildman.

Husband and wife team Robert and Lesley Mitchell own the 442 hectare Whitriggs Farm near Denholm, the Borders Monitor Farm. They have two sons - Stuart, who works full time on the farm, and Alastair who works off farm. Making sure that both sons are provided for in the future as well as safeguarding the future of the family business is very important to them both.

“We sat down as a family and developed a plan for the future which works for us all, and the farm business. We really hope that this meeting will help support farmers in the area who may be looking for guidance on the succession planning process in their own businesses,” said Mrs Mitchell.

Also at the meeting on the 7th November, Nick Heaney from Armstrong Watson Accountants will talk about the implications of the new “Making Tax Digital” (MTD) initiative from the HRMC.

“The MTD initiative is the government’s plan to digitise the tax system and will see one of the biggest change to VAT in decades,” said Mr Heaney.

He added: “From 1 April 2019, VAT-registered businesses above the threshold of £85,000 will have to keep digital records and submit VAT returns using compatible software.”

At the meeting, Mr Heaney will highlight some of the options for farmers to comply with this iniative and what impact it may have on their business, as well as where to look for help as they make this transition.

Whitriggs  is one of nine monitor farms established in Scotland as part of a joint initiative by Quality Meat Scotland (QMS) and AHDB Cereals & Oilseeds with funding from the Scottish Government. The aim of the monitor farm programme is to help improve the productivity, profitability and sustainability of Scottish farm businesses.

The meeting on 7 November will be held at the Auld Cross Keys Hotel at Denholm, TD9 8NU and will begin at 10am. Lunch will be provided and the meeting is expected to finish by 2.30pm. All are welcome and the event is free.

To reserve your place (and lunch!) please contact Stephen Young, one of the project facilitators, on 07502 339613 or email stephen.young@saos.coop.