Creed: Young farmers need ‘comparable living’ with peers

Ensuring that prospective young farmers can make a comparable living with their peers in other job sectors is the “real challenge” for getting young people to take up agriculture as a career.

That’s according to Michael Creed, the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, who acknowledged that this is more difficult to achieve in some sectors.

Speaking to AgriLand recently, the minister said: “I’ve always made the point that all of these incentives in agriculture policy for encouraging younger farmers are important.

But I also firmly believe that, in terms of career choices that young people face – and fortunately, in a time where we’re approaching full employment – young people are confronted with many choices and challenges.

“The best route to ensuring that we will attract young people into farming is to make sure they can make a comparable living with other job opportunities that they could pursue,” argued Minister Creed.

But he also pointed out that: “Whereas that may be the case in dairy, and in tillage to a lesser extent perhaps, in other commodity areas, it’s more challenging.

“I think that’s the real challenge: To make sure that the incentives are there, but that the long-term opportunity to make a sustainable living, and to have lifestyles comparable with their peers in other jobs, is really what [is needed],” added the minister.

Young farmer loans

This morning saw an important announcement for young farmers.

The European Commission and the European Investment Bank (EIB) have today, Monday, April 29, launched a €1 billion programme loan specifically targeting young farmers.

The loans package, announced today by the European Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development, Phil Hogan, and EIB vice-president, Andrew McDowell, aims to increase access to funding for EU farmers, especially young farmers.

Commenting on the announcement, Commissioner Hogan said: “Access to finance is crucial and too often an obstacle for young people wanting to join the profession.

“With 11% of European farmers under the age of 40, supporting young farmers in the sector is a priority for the European Commission and the post-2020 Common Agricultural Policy,” he added.