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2024 Annual Conference

Event Details

  • Date: 23 Jan 2024
  • Venue: Dunadry Hotel, Templepatrick
  • Time: 9:45am

Ulster Grassland Society holds successful conference

The Ulster Grassland Society held its 65th Annual Conference in  addressing the topical theme “Setting up the business for the future” with well over 100 delegates  at the Dunadry Hotel, Templepatrick on Tuesday 23rd January 2024.

After the conclusion of the Annual General Meeting the conference commenced with the first speaker  Dr Shane Conway who is Project Manager and Lecturer in the Rural Studies Centre at the University of Galway. Shane specialises in agricultural and rural social science, with a particular focus on the human side of farming, older farmers and intergenerational farm transfer. His presentation entitled “Intergenerational Considerations for Family Farm Succession, Research, Policy and Practice”. was wide ranging and a copy can be viewed HERE.

The second speaker was Heather Wildman who runs her own business (Saviour Associates) specialising in issues such as farm succession said it was important to address the topic before a crisis, a family fall-out or a sudden death. She said that it was amazing just how many farming couples don’t talk about succession, never mind disgusting it with children, but when the subject is finally raised there is often a sense of relief from other family members. Be honest from the word go she said.

She said everyone should have a will that is regularly reviewed, and have a power of attorney (giving someone the legal authority to make decisions on your behalf) was equally important.  A copy of her presentation can be viewed HERE

The third speaker was Peter Brown, a solicitor from Limavady and Chairman of thew Agricultural Law Association of Northern Ireland. He addressed some of the many legal issues which need to be addressed when consideration succession.  It was a wide ranging talk covering Wills, Power of Attorney, Controllership, Nursing care and Taxation Implications.  A copy of his presentation can be viewed HERE.

The final speaker  was Neale Manning a dairy farmer from Shropshire. Neale explained that he farms in partnership with his wife and youngest son. He said that he had gradually taken a back seat in the day-to-day operations on the farm leaving it to his son. Last year he and his wife moved to the local village down at his partner to set up home in the main farm house.

However he also pointed out that the middle generation needs a business that is making money so they can invest in things to live on when they are older.

But there is then a third generation of young people, watching their parents and grandparents working the farm, who need to see that it isn’t just all hard toil.

And when children have  events such as school sports day etc both parents should turn up, on time and don’t be in a rush to leave.

His advice to those sorting wills and who gets what, is to perhaps get a family friend to mediate, before seeking professional advice.

Success should be measured by whether young children are happy to come home – hanging out with you for a while -that is what matters.

A copy of slides on his farm can be viewed HERE.

The results of the Grassland Farmer of the Year Competition awards were also announced during the conference.

Overall Grassland Farmer of the Year – David Hunter, Newtownstewart.

Runners Up – Ryan McPolin, Cabra and Philip Truesdale, Castlewellan.

Young Farmers Section

Winner – Eoin & Ryan McCollum, Cloughmills

Runners Up – Ross Beattie, Ballymoney and Richard and Samuel Beattie, Dunloy.

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