Agri Western Cape’s Young Farmer Committee hosted their Annual General Meeting on Wednesday, 23 May 2018 in Durbanville. The Agri Western Cape / Santam Agriculture Young Farmer of the Year was announced the same evening.
During the AGM, two panel discussions were held to provide elucidation on the theme Purposeful Growth.
The theme of the first discussion focused on the effective transfer of a farming operation to the next generation. The panel members were father and son, Fanie and Carl van der Merwe, producers in the Ceres district, André Diederichs, co-founder of the Family Business Association of Southern Africa and Daneel Rossouw, Regional Manager: Nedbank Agriculture. Mr Johann Kotze, Chief Executive officer of South African Pork Producers facilitated both the panel discussions.
According to Mr Diederichs, most family operations fail in the third generation and only 3% of such operations survive until the fourth generation. “Family farming operations must have a constitution that spells out the future of the business. This will facilitate transfer of ownership because everyone is on the same level,” he said. He said family operations face three challenges to survive: entrepreneurship must continue between generations; succession planning should not take place separately from the farming operation; and good control structures must be in place.
Mr Fanie van der Merwe of Boplaas, the oldest family farm in the country, said when the father can pass a vision with core values on to the next generation, value is already established. “During the day, it is important to wear your business hat. In the evening around the fire, you are again my son,” he said. He said older producers must realise that that they are in the process of moving out and should give the younger generation the best exposure possible.
His son Carl – Agri Western Cape / Santam Agriculture’s Farmer of the Year for 2016 – said the best time was when his father’s office was next to his because they could “cross pollenate”. Cross pollination between a father and his successors creates mutual respect and can ensure a successful succession,” he said.
Mr Daneel Rossouw said succession planning is critical for any farming operation because financing is provided based on an operation’s potential rather than its history.
The second panel discussion focused on opportunities amidst land reform and transformation. The panel members were Mr Robert Graaff of Graaff Fruit in the Ceres district, the 2007 National Young Farmer of the Year; Mr Warren Bam, a producer in the Saron area and 2017 winner: National New Entrant to Agriculture; and Ms Annelize Crosby, Agri SA’s Legal and Land Reform advisor.
According to Ms Crosby, there was a lot of emotion and frustration on all sides of the land debate, especially because promises made over the past 20 years have not materialised. “It is important to realise this and to try to distance oneself from the emotion. Land has unfortunately become a political football, not only between political parties but also between factions within the ANC,” she said.
Mr Bam said new entrants to agriculture must have mentors. “Both the entrants and the mentor will have to be prepared to learn during the process,” he said.
Mr Graaff, in turn, said anyone who wants to farm on a long-term basis in South Africa must become involved in transformation. “Clear game rules will help us to move forward. It is of concern, however, that the rules are constantly changing,” he said. Both he and Mr Bam agreed that transformation meant that something had to be improved, which could include things like training.
The guest speaker and former Springbok captain, Corné Krige, reminded producers that utterances made by politicians were beyond their control. “Something that bothers me about today’s leaders is that no one wants to accept responsibility. You, however, should keep your eye on the ball on YOUR farm,” he said.
The chairman of Agri Western Cape’s Young Farmer Committee, Liam Viljoen, said although both interactive panel discussions touched on emotional issues, the correct treatment thereof could be very profitable for a farming operation and give rise to outstanding future growth.