With a number of important young farmers scheme opening this year, it is set to usher in an unprecedented level of generational change in Irish farming according to the Minister for Agriculture Simon Coveney.
“In an I can see generational change happening in agriculture the like we haven’t seen in 30 years,” he said in an interview with Agriland recently.
He said that’s because in the negotiations for the reformed Common Agricultural Policy he looked for measures which deliberately, positively discriminated in favour of young farmers.
“They get brought up to the national average and they get a top up on that on top of that young farmers get priority treatments for Pillar 2 grant aid.”
The Minister said the qualification criteria is quite strict for young farmers – you have to be under 40 and have to have come into farming in the past five years.
He said they are EU terms that we have no control over.
“What we have done is helped ‘old young farmers’ who were caught up and missed out on installation aid when it was closed seven years ago. We got agreement with the Commission in that two-year period would qualify as a disadvantaged group,” he said.
The latest figures from the CSO shows the average age of farmers in Ireland in 2012 was 54, compared to 51 in 2000.
There has been a decline in the numbers and proportions of farmers in the younger age categories over the period from 1991 to 2007, with the proportion those farming aged 44 or younger decreasing from 33% to 25% and the proportion of farmers aged 65 and over increasing from 23% to 25%.
By 2010, more than half of people farming in Ireland were over 55 years and only 6% were under 35 years of age.
Across the EU27 7.5% of farmers were under 35% years of age in 2010.