Off-farm income key to survival for many farms: McGuinness
"Romantic notions" about Ireland's small and medium-sized family farms will not ensure their survival, Fine Gael MEP Mairead McGuinness has said.
"Some small farms are highly intensive in order to survive. Others survive because the farmer and/or spouse or partner work off farm and subsidise the farm with this off-farm income.
"Future-wise these are the most secure farms, as in addition, they receive support through the CAP," she said.
The vice president of the European Parliament says that generous tax incentives will encourage more farmers over 50 to rent out their land as an additional income stream.
"The owners of some small and medium-sized farms are realising that they can make more by renting their land to neighbouring farmers," she said.
Ms McGuinness also points out that if more women inherit land in the future, it may also change the dynamic in farming. She says younger generations will also bring more innovative ideas and new expectations for their farming enterprise.
However, she believes access to skilled labour will continue to hamper development in the dairy sector.