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Preparing Farm Businesses for Change

‘Professionals working together’ is the theme of the Teagasc Farm Business Conference which is taking place in Tullamore, today, Thursday, 28 November. The conference is being attended by solicitors, accountants, auctioneers and others professionals who work with farmers.

The policy changes that are taking place in agriculture, as well as the challenges and potential solutions that may be available for clients of the professionals attending will be outlined during the conference. Decisions around the handover of the farm business and associated assets to the next generation are an important topic for discussion between farmers and their professional advisers. This decision could involve deciding the best business structures to suit the individual circumstances and future requirements of both the current farmer and the farm business successor.

Teagasc Head of Farm Management Department, Fintan Phelan said: “We are on the cusp of great change in Irish agriculture, from the removal of the restrictions of the milk quota regime, to the major reform of the CAP that is underway. While there are risks ahead, there is also great opportunity. Teagasc want to work with the other professionals in rural Ireland for the mutual benefit of all farmers to enable them to grasp these opportunities.”

Economic consultant, Jim Power outlined the importance of agriculture to the wider economy saying the agrifood sector has been correctly recognised as representing a key element in the rebuilding of Ireland's damaged economic model. “It is a high value added activity that makes a very significant national and local economic contribution. The future is very bright for the sector. Quite simply, Ireland is good at it and globally the demand for food is set to escalate against a background of global demographic trends. However, it would be naive to ignore the very challenging and competitive environment in which it operates at both the primary producer and manufacturing level. The pressures that the retail multiples place on the agrifood sector warrant very careful attention and consumers need to recognise that quality food will have to be paid for.”

Teagasc financial management specialist, Kevin Connolly said: “Recent changes in tax policy targeted at the farming sector are focused on helping achieve the Food Harvest 2020 targets. Tax reliefs to encourage or remove tax disincentives relating to land transfers or leases are central to this and farmers need to be aware of the conditions involved in order to take advantage of these valuable reliefs.”

Collaborative farming specialist with Teagasc, Ben Roche said: “Farmer collaboration, both with other farmers and within families, through arrangements such as partnerships, share farming and contract rearing, will help family farms to prosper and maintain family lifestyle. Adequate income and family farm lifestyle are two important pillars of farm viability. Solicitors, accountants, advisers and consultants are key people in assisting farmers to setup such arrangements.”