We are just into a new year and it is always a suitable time to reflect on the last 12 months, as well as looking forward to 2024. However, last year was a bit of a write-off weather-wise, so I have decided not to spend any time thinking about that, but instead, consider what 2024 has to offer. I have a big milestone birthday later this month and while I have no intention of throwing a party, I do intend to mark it with a degree of thankfulness.

I am reasonably fit and healthy, and I have a good group of family and friends involved in my life, so I have a lot to be thankful for. As usual, I have a lot going on and I have a lot of plans for the farm this year, which still gives me that buzz of excitement.

Outside the farmgate, I am also going to have a big year ahead. On Tuesday, 23 January, I will be installed as the president of the Ulster Grassland Society (UGS) at the annual conference. This is a huge honour for me. I never expected to be asked to fill this position and if I am honest, I was a little nervous about accepting, especially when I look back at those who have held the position before me.

I have only been involved with the UGS for a very short time, but I have made some really good friends and to think that they chose me to be their president is very humbling.


I have had some input into this year’s conference and it is centred around something that is very close to my heart – setting up your farm for the future.

At my age, it is very apt that I am looking to the next generation, but it is something that we should all be thinking about. We are inclined to get a little wrapped up in our farming activities and make lots of plans about the farm. All of this is good, but the years quickly slip past. Many of us seem to think we are going to live for ever.


I know that there are farmers who are in a different position to me, in that they have no natural line of succession, but that is no reason to sweep everything under the table.

I see a lot of farmers working hard until late in life without giving a second thought to what happens after they are gone. In some cases there is no successor in place. Then there are also lots of young people out there that have a great interest in farming, but do not have an opportunity to get into the industry. It is near enough impossible for someone to start from scratch in farming.

Three sons

In my own situation, some people think that I am very lucky to have three sons who all want to take over the farm. While it is great they all have an interest in farming, it still comes with challenges.

I am trying to make the farm big enough that it will give each son something worth working with. I am trying to be fair and divide things as equally as possible. But it is not easy. I have bought more land over the last couple of years and we have increased the calf-rearing enterprise. It has been difficult, especially with the way interest rates and input costs have gone up.

I have been up-front and open with my sons and they understand what I am trying to do. Hopefully this conference will help provide information and will stimulate some of you to start to think about setting up your farm for the future.

UGS conference to consider succession

This year’s Ulster Grassland Society (UGS) Conference will focus on the theme “Setting up the business for the future”.

The conference will take place on Tuesday, 23 January 2024, at the Dunadry Hotel, Antrim, running from 10am until 4pm.

The results of the Society’s Grassland Farmer of the Year competition will also be announced during the conference.

Prior booking is essential.

Email George Reid at secretary@ulstergrassland.com, or text 07920-037910.

Cost is £35 for members, £45 for non-members and £25 for students and members’ sons or daughters under 25.

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