BY BRIAN MOORE
THE role of women in all aspects of agriculture was recognised at the Skibbereen and Bandon Credit Union’s Women in Agriculture Forum in Skibbereen.
There were very few seats available at the West Cork Hotel room that hosted the event, with speakers covering topics such as farm succession, mental wellbeing and inheritance planning.
The forum began with Skibbereen and Bandon Credit Union acting manager Elma Casey welcoming the many women who had traveled to the event. ‘Women are often critical decision-makers when it comes to the farm business,’ Elma said.
‘The Women in Farming Forum has become extremely popular, providing a lot of important and relevant information to women across West Cork, and we are delighted to bring the forum to Skibbereen tonight.’
The first presentation was by solicitor Albert Wolfe, who spoke about the importance of ensuring that a well-planned and executed will is in place long before the document was needed.
‘Planning for the future of your farming business is crucial,’ Mr Wolfe said. ‘For your family’s peace of mind, it is vital that the will is discussed with all those involved, that you have appointed powers of attorney, that the will is tax-efficient and that it is in writing and signed before two witnesses.
‘Never make a will in hospital and, remember, a badly made will is worse than no will at all,’ he advised.
Mr Wolfe also outlined the all-important tax implications that apply to inheritance and gave examples of how best to mange these costs on any future plans for your farm.
Continuing the theme of inheritance and farm succession, Tom Curran, Farm Business Structure Specialist with Teagasc, said that it was never too early to begin planning for the next phase of your family farming enterprise.
‘There is a huge difference between succession and inheritance,’ Mr Curran said. ‘Succession is a gradual process; remember, the impression you give to your children will determine, in no small part, whether they want to continue farming or not.
‘Again, discussions must be held with the family members early and often. Who, if any, of your children want to continue farming?
‘What needs to be put in place, such as partnership agreements and time plans? All these subject need to be discussed and finalised well in advance.’
While acknowledging the importance of planning for the future of the family farm, Finola Colgan of Mental Health Ireland told the forum that managing stress and promoting positive wellbeing is also vital.
‘We need a more balanced outlook when it comes to our health,’ Finola said. ‘While we are all very busy with the family and the farm, we also have to find time for ourselves, because in the long run, we will all be worst-off if our health fails us.
‘We need to support each other, more women than men experience mental health issues, of course we only know this because women are more likely to seek help.’
Valerie Kingston of Glenilen Farm and dairy farmer Marguerite Crowley also gave the audience a taste of their experiences while farming in West Cork.
The evening came to a close with a discussion on the prevailing uncertainty created by the Brexit crisis, but with an agreed positive outlook for the Irish agricultural for the future.
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