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Sutherland Monitor Farm Meeting Focuses on Succession Planning

The next meeting of the Sutherland Monitor Farm will focus on the important, but often neglected, topics of achieving lifestyle balance and succession planning.

At the meeting, which will be held at Brora Golf Club on Tuesday 30th January, Heather Wildman from Saviour Associates will lead a workshop aimed at supporting local farmers and crofters to plan and tackle this often rather sensitive subject.

“When you are busy running a business, it can be difficult to find time to consider long term succession planning. However, it makes sense to consider succession planning at an early stage if you wish to secure the success of your business for the next generation,” said Mrs Wildman.

Mrs Wildman, who has published a guide to succession aimed at farmers and crofters, will suggest ways for those who attend the meeting to work with their families and prepare for their own succession.

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

Victoria Ballantyne from Clynelish, the Sutherland Monitor Farm, is hoping this meeting will help support farmers and crofters in the area who are looking for ways to tackle this sometimes emotive subject.

“Succession is often a subject that many families fear and dread and as a result they find it difficult to talk about,” said Mrs Ballantyne. “We hope that this meeting will help to address that and encourage farming families on the best way to open up the dialogue on this topic and prepare for the future.”

Victoria Ballantyne and her husband Jason are strong advocates of establishing a good work life balance. “Vic and I both believe that it’s crucial to have a good work life balance. As most farmers live and work in the same place it can be really difficult for them to switch off,” said Mr Ballantyne.

He added: “We both enjoy rugby, socialising and travelling so have set up the farm to minimise work at weekends. Our simplified system means someone can come in and look after things without it being too complicated or time consuming. This gives us a chance to get away, enjoy ourselves and unwind.”

After lunch, the group will visit Clynelish farm where the Ballantynes will give an overview of how their winter grazing system has been working and share the recent calf weights with the group. Clynelish have previously sold their store calves at Thainstone at the end of March when they are around 10 months old. This year there have decided to keep some of the angus cross heifers for replacements and finish around a dozen of their angus cross steers. They will also unveil their plans for the Sutherland monitor farm for 2018.

Clynelish Farm 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 at Brora Golf Club on 30th January, which is free to attend and open to all, will begin at 11am, with coffee/registration from 10.30am.

If you are interested in attending the next Sutherland Monitor farm meeting can you please confirm your attendance with the facilitators Willie Budge or Cat MacGregor by phoning SAC Thurso on 01847 892602 or emailing FBSThurso@sac.co.uk

For more information about the monitor farm programme visit www.monitorfarms.co.uk