You don’t have to be farming to get into the agricultural sector

George Hipwell, Linlithgow, West Lothian

George Hipwell (29) is a Chartered Surveyor, Fellow of the Central Association of Agricultural Valuers (FAAV) and a Director of Davidson and Robertson (D&R) – a firm of Rural Surveyors and Consultants.  He remains connected to the land in his spare time, working on his ‘in-laws’ farm, developing a glamping pod business with wife Rhona and enjoying family life with 2 young boys.

Variation: If you don’t farm, there are still lots of opportunities to enjoy a career in agriculture. I run the D&R office in Linlithgow with a great team – it’s a young and vibrant environment – because we love our connection with the land. We’ve nine offices across Scotland and Northern England and share specialisms –  I lead on property sales.

Advising on land matters is at the heart of what I do every day and I enjoy the variety. Last week I was in Argyle where a new pylon line is being constructed, so I’m busy negotiating for client interests (there’s a lot of utilities activity across the country).  Next day I looked at a farm diversification and the day after, I discussed ‘off market’ sales for forestry.

Diversification: I’ve noticed the trend for small family farms seeking extra income to remain viable and spread their financial risk. Tourism is the hottest contender including camp sites, B&B and glamping pods.

My wife’s family looked at just that – they have a small family farm with a flock of 400 Easycare ewes,  this  extensive farming method allowed them to diversify into B&B and a log cabin. Together, these elements create a more viable family business.

Following their lead, Rhona and I have built our own glamping pod. Up and running for 12 months, the investment was paid off in three.

Succession and Opportunity: Succession planning is a serious business in any industry. In farming, handover is often in later in life so the challenge is keeping the business fresh and having the energy to deal with changes. It’s often a tricky business with lots of financial liabilities to consider, so helping families plan is very satisfying.

Grab opportunities. After obtaining my professional qualification I moved to D&R because I was impressed with their ethos, growth and potential. Many of us are still hands-on farming in some way – so we’re all very grounded. Within 4 years I became an Associate Director and am back in my hometown, running our Linlithgow office – and was made a Director earlier in 2018. It proves you don’t have to be farming to work in the agricultural sector!

01506 811 812

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