15 Jun 2012

Farm succession planning

6:34 am on 15 June 2012

Passing the farm to the next generation has become a key concern for New Zealand farmers.

ANZ Bank issued the results of its annual business barometer survey at the National Agricultural Fieldays on Thursday.

Farming businesses were included in the survey for the first time this year.

Of the 750 farmers surveyed, more than 90% considered their farm to be a family operation and 71% said they wanted to sell it to their children.

But ANZ agribusiness and strategy general manager Ross Ferry says very few had a plan to make that happen.

"Although 91% of them highlighted it as an issue, there was only 10% who had a formal plan, I guess a lot of them know what they want to achieve but they don't know how to get there".

He says perhaps the biggest issue in succession planning is that the buyer struggles to get access to capital and fund an acquisition because some of these businesses have become so large and of such high value.

Mr Ferry says the two generations may need to consider progression of change of ownership rather than succession.

He says the first step to farm succession is to pay down debt.

"If you could run a farm very successfully and profitably that gives you a number of different options to transition the farm to the next generation over time.

''They might not necessarily own it all on day one, but they could progressively buy shareholdings through contributing to the profitability of the company and through I guess saving and managing their own finances very effectively".