10 Sep, 2021

Donal Shinnick

Donal Shinnick and his wife Anne run a successful dairy farm in north Cork, with a herd of 400 cows. With two grown-up and two younger children, the issue of succession has been on their mind in recent times.

We got great peace of mind from ifac in terms of what will happen to the next generation

What we most appreciate about ifac is that they take a long-term view of the business on our behalf. As part of our annual review, we would have been asked whether we had a Will in place, and if so would we provide ifac with a copy so that their tax department could tax proof the Will. That review led on to the discussion around succession, and they convinced us at the outset that it’s never too early to start planning for the future.

We have four children, two of them still in school, an oldest son involved with the farm, and an older daughter who also has a keen interest in farming.

Like most dairy farmers in Ireland, we embraced the ceasing of quotas in 2015. In 2010, on the advice of ifac, we changed the business structure from a spousal partnership to a limited company. Both myself and Anne are shareholders in our Company.

This new structure allowed the farm to retain more farm profits, and these were reinvested in the business and allowed the farm to grow. The farm has grown significantly since 2015 and we’re currently milking around 400 cows (spring calving). I inherited the farm from my own parents and both Anne and I have invested our entire working life into it.

A 60% grant for our new milking parlour was an added bonus to our succession plan

Real peace of mind from having started the process

We wanted Thomas to become actively involved in the business, and not just getting a “wage”. Decisions on the long-term viability and growth of the farm needed to include input from Thomas. With this in mind, we formed a Registered Farm Partnership (RFP) which gave us access to Young Farmer grants and we were able to avail of the 60% grant for the new milking parlour.

We would see the RFP as the first step on the road to succession and the transfer of the farming business. A partnership structure was the right decision for our farm as Thomas was genuinely interested in farming and wanted to become more involved in the decision making process. For us the TAMS grant was an added bonus as a result of going into a registered farm partnership.

Looking to the future, as our other children grow older, they may or may not seek to farm as well. As such, myself and Ann will adjust our succession plan according as they finish education and look to make their own way in life.

ifac keep us focused on the ever-changing nature of our farm business

Planning can never start too early

Ifac have made us aware that our succession planning isn’t over, in fact, it is just starting. We’re very happy to be in a position where we have catered for the needs of both the family and the farm.

Everything changes sooner or later, and we’ll adjust our succession plan over the coming years as the needs of the family change.

Darren Shiel
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