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Don’t be afraid to discuss: “Who gets the family farm"

28 March 2013

For immediate release

Farmers, don’t be afraid to discuss: “Who gets the family farm?”

DairyNZ’s Farmers’ Forum event is coming to Hawera on 18 April. One of the most anticipated speakers at the event is Joan Baker, a succession planning expert.

Joan herself comes from a farming family and knows first-hand the intricacies that come with succession. She says it can be quite easy to organise all the money and the legalities surrounding successions, “It's actually very difficult for people to face up to the need to plan for succession and to think about what they really want and to have the conversations with all of the people they need to have them with to make it happen.”

She acknowledges that the most difficult decisions are the emotional ones: “What's very hard for people is to do the thinking and the talking that's required to get them to the point of having a succession plan.”

Joan says there is often an identity issue for farmers as they start a new life after handing over the reins on farm. “Usually somebody who farms identifies themselves as a farmer, men in particular tend to have a very strong identity with their work and often they have huge issues around who they will be once they no longer farm. Often they don't do anything about creating a new life for themselves and it's terribly hard for them to let go of their farming identity.”

She encourages farmers to begin conversations about succession with their families and relevant parties. She says commonly farmers leave it too late. “They don't talk within the family about what they want and what the various children want; they're worried about treating their children inequitably and they solve the problem by doing nothing a lot of the time.”

Joan wants to help farmers initiate the thinking and the talking that's a necessary prerequisite for getting a successful succession. “I would define a successful succession as the farming couple getting what they want.”

Other topics covered at the Hawera event include new research into once-a-day milking, GPS use on farm, nitrogen leaching, Forage Value Index - the new rating system for pasture grasses - and pasture persistence.

The DairyNZ Farmers’ Forum provides a great opportunity for dairy farmers to see how their levy is invested and to learn about dairy industry research and development work relevant to the Taranaki region’s farming issues.

“Our Farmers’ Forum has become an annual gathering and every second year we go out to the regions and customise forum topics based on locally relevant issues,” says DairyNZ CEO, Dr Tim Mackle.

“Farmers tell us they really look forward to the forum each year and gain a lot from attending. We guarantee you’ll go away with something you can implement on-farm to make a positive difference.”

The Farmers’ Forum event includes time for informal discussion with DairyNZ scientists and developers plus others who lead key industry research and development programmes.

Farmers can view the DairyNZ Farmers’ Forum conference programmes for Hawera and register online at Registration prior to the event is essential.

Registration is free to levy-paying farmers and their staff – there is a $50 charge for all others.

The event runs from 9.30am-2pm at The Hub in Hawera and lunch is provided.


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