Farm ownership pathway found

Sara and Tim O'Neill, of Five Mile Farm, Gimmberburn, pictured with Harriet (now 1) and Maggie (now 3) have made a start on their succession plan and have bought 50% of the property's stock and plant. Photo: O'Neill
Sara and Tim O'Neill, of Five Mile Farm, Gimmberburn, pictured with Harriet (now 1) and Maggie (now 3) have made a start on their succession plan and have bought 50% of the property's stock and plant. Photo: O'Neill
Sheep and beef farmers Sara and Tim O'Neill, of Five Mile Farm, Gimmerburn, have spent the past year developing a succession plan to buy the property from his parents.

One of the outcomes of the plan has been buying about 50% of stock and plant last year.

Mr O'Neill, who is the fourth generation on the farm, has managed the 2550ha farm for nine years, while Mrs O'Neill has lived there for five years.

The family have halfbred sheep and trading cattle.

Mrs O'Neill works as an office administrator in a veterinarian practice for one day a week, and on a dairy grazing property, also for one day a week.

The rest of the time she helps on the family farm when needed for weighing or mustering, drenching and vaccinating.

They got married on the farm last October and have two children: Maggie (3) and Harriet (1).

While they always intended to buy the property from Mr O'Neill's parents Liz and Tony, it was not until they attended a Rabobank Ag Pathways Network course in Invercargill last year that they got some of the tools required to achieve their goals.

They have been accepted to attend a next level course in Christchurch later this year.

Mrs O'Neill also attended an Agri-Women's Development Trust course earlier this year, and she is also learning about farm accounts, which are all tools in their toolbox.

She said the Pathways course covered succession planning, team building and setting and achieving business and personal goals.

''We really enjoyed the business planning as it was a good opportunity to sit down and nut out our goals, which was something we hadn't really talked about before,'' she said.

The course also covered different farm ownership options, and they also talked to their bank manager, who also attended.

''There are so many different ways to do it,'' she said.

They then formed a partnership with his parents and bought 50% of the stock and plant.

As they wanted his parents to be comfortable when they retired, and as they would also want to buy out Mr O'Neill's brother and sister, those factors were included in their plan.

They also identified specific goals for the business including improving KPIs (key performance indicators) for stock and land performance.

''We want to tail 9500 lambs where previously we have been tailing 9000,'' she said.

''We also want to look at body condition management and more hogget mating.

''Another goal is to pay off a bit of debt so we can buy more of the farm.

''Our personal goals include taking the family on a holiday,'' she said.

They also intend to make use of a mentor.

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