OFC 2010: Farmers are urged to retire at 60

Farmers should retire at 60, according to a debate among farmers and industry representatives at the Oxford Farming Conference.

Conference delegates voted 180 to 163 in favour of farmers standing down to allow younger generations to take over the land when they hit 60 during the annual conference debate on Tuesday (5 January)

Barrister Joanne Moss of Falcon Chambers, who proposed the motion, argued that many farmers refused to retire because they believed retirement was “dropping out”. Those who retired at 60 had at least “10 good years” to gain new skills and hobbies, as well as building relationships with family members.

“The only person who takes a job intending to die in it is the Pope,” she said. “Your children don’t need you hanging around telling them what to do. They are grown-ups – they do not need you unless they ask.”

Douglas Jackson, NFYFC agriculture and rural affairs chairman, who seconded the motion, said it would take young farmers 69 years to raise the revenue needed to buy a farm. “Unless farmers stand down at 60 to let the next generation take over, young farmers would never have the opportunity to farm,” he said.

But RABI chairman Andrew Densham, who argued against the motion, said there were financial reasons why farmers should not be forced to retire at 60.

“Tenant farmers aren’t allowed to appoint a successor until they are 65,” he said. “If you retire as an owner-occupier you lose Agricultural Property Relief, leaving your children to pay inheritance tax.”

Katherine Seely, NFU representative for the south west NFYFC, agreed farmers’ children were not always prepared to run a business when their parents reached 60. “Young farmers need time to learn how to run a farm and not be forced into a job they aren’t ready for. Suggesting farmers should retire at 60 is short-sighted.”