400 farm partnerships expected in new scheme

A grant of €2,500 for collaborative farming is being proposed in the next Rural Development Plan (RDP) and it is estimated that 400 new partnerships will be set up as a result.

According to the consultation RDP document, which was published by the Government this week, partnership farming has a number of benefits including economic, land mobility, skills and social benefits.

“Access to land is a critical constraint on progressive farmers. Collaborative farming arrangements, such as partnerships and share milking, contract farming and so on offer a new route to access underused land for such farmers.

“Food harvest 2020 recognises the role that farm partnerships can play in addressing structural challenges and supporting ambitious growth targets. It includes the recommendation that ‘any remaining obstacles to partnership formation or other new models of farming should be removed,” it stated.

Some €1m has been earmarked for the new scheme and the grant is to cover initial start-up costs, such as legal and administrative costs.

The proposed scheme is an attempt by Government to address structural issues such as new entrants to dairy, women farmers, young farmers, intergenerational transfer scenarios and so on.

The move has been welcomed by the Land Mobility Brokerage Service. Speaking it AgriLand, its land mobility officer Austin Finn said it was “extremely supportive of the measures”.

“Formal collaboration is a slow-burner in Ireland. We need a change of mindset. Structured collaborative farming can work, but it’s a new concept that many farmers and land owners need to get their head around,” he said.

“Farmers have worked together for centuries, in co-ops, at harvest time, but new its about formalising these new concepts so it is a new concept.”

The Land Mobility Brokerage Service was launched last year and is supported by stakeholders including Macra na Feirme, Teagasc and the Department of Agriculture among others. It has already noted a keen interest in its services.

“There has been a lot of engagement across Ireland. We have a good number of landowners who want to look at structured collaborative farming arrangements. We have landowners who are looking at partnerships with young trained farmers.”

Advice workshops this month take place on 22 January in the Roscommon Teagasc office at 8pm, Moorepark Teagasc at 8pm on 23 January and the Teagasc office on the Kell’s Road, Kilkenny on 30 January at 8pm.