28 Oct It Can Be Challenging For Farmers To Let Go
‘It can be Challenging for Farmers to let go’
Hamish Logan, 23, is from an arable and potato farm in East Lothian, Scotland. He is a Harper Adams University Graduate and now works as a Farm Consultant for Savills.
Family farming enterprises are a very common business model in agriculture and I am fortunate to have been brought up on such an arable and potato farm in East Lothian.
I have always respected the approach my father and grandfather have taken to running the farm, diversifying over the years in order to suit the market place, and gradually handing over the reins of responsibility from one generation to the next.
I hope that one day in the future I will be instrumental in the further development of the family business. However in the meantime it is proving to be rewarding in terms of widening my farming experiences, to pursue a career elsewhere in the sector.
After studying agriculture at Harper Adams University, I looked at a number of careers, finally deciding on farm consultancy.
I started at Savills in February, working in the Food and Farming department advising farmers, right across Scotland. It’s both interesting and challenging to be involved in so many areas from livestock and fruit growing, to advising farmers on key considerations like managing contract farming agreements, subsidy applications, account reviews and – of particular interest to me given my background – the challenges around succession.
And I am not alone in wishing to find out more about succession . Attending the NFUS Next Generation Reception at the Scottish Parliament recently highlighted that the topic is front of mind for many other young farmers – and so it should be.
Business succession brings opportunities and risks to all commercial businesses, and farming is no exception. It is never too early for young farmers, who will ultimately be returning home to the family business, to start considering what these might mean for them and their families.
Succession can be an emotional exercise for many farming families, primarily due to human attachment: the fact that the business is also home makes it challenging, both financially and emotionally, for farmers to ‘let go’ and hand over the cheque book to the next generation. However as with many things, the earlier difficult subjects are addressed, the easier it is to plan for and implement the changes required.
I have been lucky enough to have the opportunity to stay closely in touch with life at home on the farm while building up an invaluable bank of experience working away from home at Savills.
And by attending meetings and joining committees within the sector, as and when my workload allows, I am able to obtain exposure to what is happening in the wider industry and to start developing a full network of rural professional advisers and other farmers. The NFU as well as the Young Farmers Agri and Rural Affairs Committees are just some of the organisations with which I am actively involved.
I envisage that this network will continue to be hugely important to me in future years. Farming is often a lonely business, especially now with reducing margins whereby families are now opting to employ fewer farm workers. Attending events provides opportunities to meet with like-minded people, and to discuss new trends and processes within agriculture. Sharing best practice is not only invaluable to all of us as members and practitioners, but can only be of benefit to the industry as a whole.