Macra survey highlights hunger for bigger farms
THE hunger for land among young farmers is growing, with 85pc of the next generation of farmers intending to expand their home farm, according to a survey of Macra na Feirme members carried out ahead of the final round of the FBD Young Farmer of the Year contest tomorrow.
Long-term leasing and land purchase are top of the list of ways young farmers intend to expand their farms, with partnerships, conacre and sharefarming trailing in their wake.
Just 15pc of the 207 young farmers surveyed said they did not intend to expand their businesses.
Some 32pc of the farmers who intend to expand want to do it through long-term leasing, while 25pc would prefer to buy land outright. Another 19pc said they would prefer to expand through partnerships, while the rest want to do it through conacre (13.6pc) or share-farming (10.2pc).
However, Macra na Feirme president Kieran O'Dowd warned that there were legal obstacles preventing young farmers from expanding through leasing.
"Long-term leasing must be encouraged to ensure stability in the industry, but the recent Law Society Regulation 2012 (SI 375/2012) requires the lessor and lessee to have separate legal representation," he explained. "This is seen as a barrier to entering into long-term leases as two sets of legal fees arise."
He added that Macra was proposing a double rent relief incentive for the first year of rental expenditure for long-term leases. Almost half (46pc) of the farmers surveyed said the Food Harvest 2020 targets for the dairy sector would only be achievable if they could access more land.