Young people feel they are positioned as ‘guardians’ of the land. Even when inheritance happens, the legacy of being able to pass the farm on to the next generation is very strong, according to research by Dr Anne Cassidy. 

Speaking at the Teagasc conference ‘Family Farming In Ireland: Continuity and Change’, on the changing role of the farm household, she outlined her research into the attitudes of young people who grew up on farms but were not planning on going into farming.

She found that there is a deep attachment to the land among young people in Ireland who are from farms. “It’s an integral part of their identity. Even if they are cool and hip, they are still attached to the land.

“People still say ‘we’ when talking about the farm, even if they have moved away and are not directly involved in the farm, they still speak about the farm at home as part of their lives.”

She also said the desire to keep farms within families remains strong among Irish farm families. Because of this, the nature of engagement with the land might change in the future, but the rate of land sales is unlikely to increase on a significant level.

Sons, she said, are still more like to be regard as ‘workers’ as either the ‘farmer’ or back-up heir. “It is viewed by both genders as appropriate for a farmers son to take over the holding in Ireland.

“Daughters are viewed as ‘helpers’, standing in gaps, or detached as land holders who would work primarily off farm.” Off farm, daughters are taught to have equal standing but, on farm, traditional sexist roles exist, she said.