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TAS Country : January 10th 2013
14 Tasmanian Country Friday, January 11, 2013 News Plan to avoid family fall-outs DEAD END: Horror stories continue of huge family rifts caused by poor farm succession planning. Agreeing on what is fair is often the hardest part Without proper consideration, the family legacy can become a sibling war zone, writes KATE DOWLER ''WHAT'S going to happen with the farm?'' It is one of those thorny topics that always seems to pop up, uninvited, at this time of year. For hundreds of farming families, now is one of the rare times when everyone straddles vast distances to get together, and when such sticky issues might get an airing. Farm succession planning is one of the sector's most complex quandaries. While advisers working in the field say we are getting better at navigating it, horror stories continue of huge family rifts caused by off-farm members being excluded, or those who have worked the land not getting fair reward. Agreeing on what is fair is often the hardest part. The question of who gets what, and fairness versus equity, is a tough one for farm families. In some families, the issue of gender, and sometimes an unspoken expectation or understanding that the son gets the farm, continues to cause division. Another common scenario seen more often in recent years is conflict caused by siblings, male or female, who work off-farm, but still expect an ''equal'' amount of the farm as inheritance as on-farm siblings who could arguably be justified in getting a bigger share. The first step for any farm family that wants to talk about succession planning is to be open and honest, experts say. One of Australia's leading succession advisers, Dubbo-based Lynne Sykes, said it was ''high risk'' to exclude anyone from a family business without their consent. ''People who feel excluded are not likely to co-operate, particularly if a relationship ends,'' she said. ''Inclusion creates an environment where people are more likely to be open and generous.'' Ms Sykes said circumstances in which decisions were made by some members on behalf of others were ''not uncommon'' and often led to crises. Siblings' behaviour also often changed once their parents died, she added. Parents needed to ask themselves whether their children remaining friends was a priority and, if so, succession planning was vital. A will was not a succession plan and without a plan ''all hell can break loose, families can be ripped apart''. Ms Sykes said she had encountered young women --- when faced with their family not treating them fairly in their succession plan --- who ended up very angry at their parents, deeply confused and hurt. ''I've had young women, in tears, who say to their parents, 'Why did you raise me to think I can do anything when you've excluded a heap of options?' --- in the situation where the farm was to be left only to sons,'' she said. ''I think, for reasons and attitudes like that, there are many women from farming backgrounds, who have a belief that somehow, they don't quite measure up.'' Many families shied away from succession planning due to fear of ''opening a can of worms''. The can would always be opened at some point, she said. But Australian farm families are getting better at planning for the next generation. When Ms Sykes began in the field 25 years ago she said there were ''high levels of conflict and crisis points'', but now most of her work centred on earlier planning. Farm leaders agreed succession planning was one of the major challenges farm families needed to overcome. While they all agreed gender should never be a factor in decisions, many thought that family members who worked the farm should have a greater share of the asset if they were to run a viable business in future. National Farmers' Federation president Jock Laurie said he was going through the ''succession planning headache'' with his own farm. He said he was ''struggling'' with how to pass on a viable farm enterprise fairly to his two sons and one daughter. ''I'm just not really sure what is fair,'' Mr Laurie explained. ''If we split it up equally, it may put the farmer(s) in the position where the farm is not a viable business for anyone. ''But each farm business is different and invariably complex.'' He said thinking had changed in recent years, and off-farm children often no longer expected an ''equal share of the asset''. It was more likely those building careers off-farm expected to inherit less than farming siblings. A steak with beer A TEXAS ranch is turning heads by feeding its cattle hay mixed with beer to add more flavour to its beef. The Texas T Kobe ranch in Wallis adds the award-winning Endeavor IPA beer to its hay supply to feed to its herd of Wagyu cattle, Houston news agency KHOU said. Endeavor IPA is brewed at Saint Arnold Brewing Company in Houston and its Imperial India Pale Ale won a silver medal at last year's World Beer Cup. KHOU said the yeast in the IPA beer made the feed easier for cattle to digest and resulted in juicier beef with rich marbling. Texas T Kobe ranch owner Gene Terry said the cattle pre- ferred the hay with beer mixed in to regular hay. Watch for pinkeye CATTLE producers need to be on the lookout for pinkeye in hot and dry weather. Pinkeye, infectious keratoconjunc- tivitis, is a highly contagious, painful and debilitating disease that can severely affect animal productivity. The signs of pinkeye include clear and watery tears, signs of irritation, an aversion to sunlight, reddening and swelling of the eyelids, and cloudiness of the eye. While most affected eyes completely recovered after three to five weeks, a number may be left with scarring on the surface. Pinkeye can be treated with sprays, ointments, injections and patches or a combination of these treatments. Extra care should be taken when mustering cattle for the purposes of treatment for pinkeye, as factors such as dust and flies may enhance the spread of the disease. Twin sowing lifts profit KAROLIN MacGREGOR Fiona Young TWIN sowing of pasture and cereals can significantly boost profits in mixed farming enterprises. Research by the Grains Research and Development Corporation shows that twin sowing in broadacre cropping systems can increase profits by up to 24 per cent. University of Western Australia re- search student Fiona Young has been researching the benefits of twin sowing. Ms Young's supervisor Ross Kingwell said the research had shown that twin-row sowing boosted farm productivity, which then increased farm profits. ''Twin-row sowing lowers the cost of establishing legume pastures, without interfering with crop sowing,'' he said. ''It provides minimal investment to implement and provides an oppor- tunity to improve pasture production and quality using low-cost seed pro- duced on farm.'' The research used a whole-farm bio- economic model to assess the pro- fitability of twin-row sowing systems in a number of farms in Western Aust- ralia's wheatbelt. Comparisons between farming sys- tems with and without twin sowing were undertaken. Mr Kingwell said the results had found twin row sowing increased whole farm profits while reducing the area optimally allocated to pasture. ''For a standard farm the area of pasture decreases by 13 per cent while profit increases significantly by 24 per cent,'' he said. ''As twin sowing has been developed mainly for pasture development on sandy soils, farms with predominantly sandy soils experience the largest increase in farm profits of 41 per cent, at current high prices of sheepmeat and wool.'' Mr Kingwell said sensitivity analysis had shown that even if sheep and wool prices decline, farming systems with twin sowing remain highly profitable in comparison with farms that do not use a twin system. ''The combination of desirable characteristics displayed by twin sow- ing highlight its potential for further trial and adoption across an array of different farming systems,'' he said.
January 3rd 2013
January 17th 2013