Will’s World: Plan for farm’s future hardly straightforward

The year is 2043. Wrexham have just been crowned Premier League and European Champions and the 23rd series of Clarkson’s Farm has just been confirmed.

Former FW opinion writer and now UK Farmers’ Party prime minister Joe Stanley, fresh from his record-breaking majority win at the recent election, announces that Britain will be rejoining the EU next year, leading to rapturous celebrations throughout the country.

See also: Changes to farm tenancy succession – what you need to know

Or perhaps not. But nevertheless, I’ve been thinking a lot about the year 2043 lately, as I turn 45 in a few weeks’ time (halfway to 90, as my delightful daughters keep pointing out).

I’m trying, therefore, to write a 20-year plan that will take me to an age, should I be spared, when I’ll probably find myself stepping away from active farming, one way or another.

I’m not finding it easy, though. In fact, I’m really struggling with it, and I’m annoyed with myself as a result. It should be straightforward, and I know it will be useful for lots of reasons – not least to keep me focused on my goals and what’s important in the long run.

But the trouble with trying to create a very organised and pragmatic life plan like this is that you probably need to be a very organised and pragmatic person in the first place. And that really isn’t me.


There are the obvious things to include, of course, such as staying physically and mentally healthy, having a good work/life balance and a happy family, and creating enough wealth over the next two decades for a comfortable retirement.

The first two of those are tough to achieve, but, all things considered, are going relatively well (the present Mrs Evans might disagree).

The third feels particularly difficult with the economy as it is these days, but I’m confident that we can get there, with luck and a fair wind.

So what is it that I’m finding so difficult? Maybe it’s emotion clouding the issue, because so much depends on whether one or more of my girls will want to take on the farm.

We’ve never pushed them either way, and aren’t interested in doing so, believing instead that if it’s in them, they’ll find it themselves.

I’ve met too many farmers who felt pressured into it by family and have ended up very unhappy, and I’d never want that for my children.

Farming can be wonderful, but it can also be incredibly difficult and lonely at times, and you have to love it to live it.

The question of succession

I’ll be surprised if none of them are interested. But if I’m wrong, and they don’t want to farm, there will be a part of me that’s relieved and very happy for them. But it will also break my heart a little.

It shouldn’t, but it will, and that’s just the way it is. There’s been too much blood, sweat and tears put in over the generations for it to be otherwise. Anyway, we’ll know either way by the time 2043 comes along.

So maybe I need to write two plans. One with the farm in it, that includes me eventually moving into a support and advisory role for them and doling out the wisdom of my extensive agricultural experience when required (mostly involving what not to do), and the other with a sale and a major life change.

Or perhaps abandon the plans altogether and do what I’ve always done – just wing it and see what happens.