Farming arrangements involving conacre leasing of land are in demise, according to the Land Mobility Service’s Austin Finn.

Speaking at the Irish Farm Managers Association (IFMA) conference in the Horse and Jockey on Thursday night, Finn said that the proportion of land farmed under conacre has dropped since the service was launched three years ago.

However, he told the crowd in attendance that conacre agreements still remain strong in certain parts of the country, but the dependence on these leases is falling at farm level.

Farmers are beginning to focus on some form of collaborative or long term agreement.

This is necessary, he said, as 26% of Irish farmers are over 65 years of age, while 48% of full-time farmers have identified no successor.

Finn discussed three key elements of the service, which include information and awareness, delivery of arrangements and supporting of formed arrangements.

He said that the service has been enormously beneficial, as the whole idea behind the it is to provide independent advice to ensure that a fair agreement is reached.

“We want an agreement that will work for everyone, we are not down the road of getting the highest prices and to hell with the consequences.

“It is all about getting the right person. There has been a greater understanding and acceptance of collaborative farming methods since the service was formed.

We have over 500 clients and as of the last count 224 arrangements had been arranged.

Arrangements must work for all parties

The Land Mobility Programme Manager also said that the arrangements must work for all parties involved.

“The independent nature of the service has been key to its success. It is independent, fair and it meets the needs of all parties.

“The client profile has been mixed from day one, between 45-50% are land owners, 25% are new operators and the remainder are expanding enterprises,” he said.

He also said that the type of arrangement doesn’t really matter as long as it makes sense for the parties involved.

Breakdown of arrangements:
  • Long leasing: 49%
  • Partnership: 20%
  • Share farming: 17%
  • Farm-to-farm: 14%

The arrangement has to be suitable and sustainable, he said, and the most important thing is proper facilitation for families and land owners.

On young farmers looking to partake in a collaborative farming arrangement, he said that opportunities do exist for young mobile trained farmers with suitable sets.

However, he advised the young farmers that a greenfield operation is not necessarily the best option for young managers starting out.