Some 282 arrangements have been delivered under Macra na Feirme’s Land Mobility Service during the last three years, resulting in almost 25,000ac being farmed by young farmers.

The programme seeks to facilitate new collaborative arrangements between farmers – such as farm partnerships, shared farming agreements and long-term leasing. It has surpassed all expectations during the three-year pilot programme.

The service has expanded year-on-year, surpassing all targets and expectations since its initiation, Macra na Feirme National President Sean Finan said.

2016 saw the service really establish itself, facilitating 144 arrangements out of a total of 282 in the past three years, he said.

“This initiative would not be possible without the financial support of the FBD Trust, the three pilot area co-ops – Aurivo, Dairygold and Glanbia – and the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine,” he added.

Land mobility continues to be a serious issue in Ireland, according to Macra.

A 2012 Macra na Feirme Land Mobility and Succession report showed that one quarter of Irish farmers were over the age of 65 and almost half of all full-time farmers have no identified successor.

Macra’s Land Mobility programme aims to reduce that figure and combat the generational renewal issue Ireland is facing.

Michael McBennett of FBD Trust and Chair of the Land Mobility Advisory Group believes there are a number of challenges that the agriculture sector has to overcome in the near future.

“Given the challenges that the country and agriculture sector in particular is facing – such as Brexit and climate change and that we export the vast amount of our agricultural production – it is essential we become as competitive as possible by getting as much of our farm assets under the management and care of younger, trained and ambitious farmers.

“The continuation and expansion of the Land Mobility Service is crucial in this regard,” he said.

Land access for young farmers

The Land Mobility Service is developing arrangements and opportunities, which enable young farmers to access land more easily and take the next steps in their farming careers – through economically sustainable collaborative arrangements, Finan said.

“The Land Mobility Service ensures older farmers retain ownership of their land while they also see it farmed to its full potential by getting involved with an enthusiastic, energetic, educated young farmer in a collaborative arrangement,” he added.

This initiative has demonstrated real success in encouraging and facilitating collaborative arrangements between farmers, the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine said.

“I am pleased that my Department has contributed the enabling policy environment to make these collaborations possible, as well as providing financial support for the Land Mobility Service and input to its steering committee,” Minister Creed said.