University of Exeter farming succession study launches

Image caption The University of Exeter said the research project intends to help farming families across the UK hold meaningful succession planning

A research project aimed at helping farmers plan who will take over their businesses has been announced.

The University of Exeter's Centre for Rural Policy said farming succession is a little-discussed "global issue".

It is working with Cornwall's Rural Business School and insurer NFU Mutual to embark on what it says is the first UK-wide academic study of the subject.

At the end of the project there will be seminars held across the UK offering farmers advice.

Printed and online resources will also be produced.

'Serious issue'

Prof Matt Lobley, from the University of Exeter, said farming families often don't discuss the future, which can cause problems.

"It can cause family break ups, it can cause the loss of family farms that may have been in the same locality for generations, so it's a serious issue to tackle," he said.

Michael Horrell, a dairy farmer near Liskeard in Cornwall, said he welcomed the initiative, as he had been struggling to pass his farm on.

"I'm trying to hand it over to the next generation" he said.

"The children don't want to be left with the problem, so we've been talking through how to set it up so someone can farm it, but not our own family, and leave it as an asset for the children that they can dispose of if and when they want to."

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