Farm Ireland

Monday 19 March 2018

Expansion top priority for farming youngsters

Caitriona Murphy

Caitriona Murphy

Farm expansion is top of the agenda for Ireland's young farmers, according to a new survey of Macra na Feirme members.

A staggering 86pc of young dairy farmers surveyed by the organisation over the past fortnight intend to expand their farm enterprise in the coming years.

Young beef farmers are also determined to expand, with 75pc of those surveyed intending to increase production. Some 70pc of young sheep farmers, 62pc of young tillage farmers, 52pc of pig farmers and half of the young poultry producers surveyed also intend to expand their production.

While most of the farmers surveyed say they intend to expand by 6-20pc, there are also some very ambitious expansion plans in the pipeline.

One-quarter of the young dairy farmers intend to increase production by 40pc or more in the next two years, while almost 14pc of young beef farmers intend to boost production by the same margin.

The driving force behind some of these expansion plans is undoubtedly the overwhelmingly upbeat mood in agriculture at the moment.

The survey found that more than 80pc of Macra's members believe that the outlook for Irish agriculture is positive.

Demonstrating a huge vote of confidence in the sector, 84.2pc of Macra members surveyed said the outlook for Irish agriculture was good or very good. Just 10.6pc of those surveyed said the future was not good, while 4.2pc were undecided.

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Minister for Agriculture Simon Coveney is almost certainly benefiting from the feel-good factor within the industry at present, with a 49.3pc approval rating among Irish young farmers.


The survey found that 16.4pc of young farmers rated his performance as very good, while 32.9pc rated it as good. Some 42.9pc rated it as average, while only 3.6pc and 4.3pc of those surveyed it as poor or very poor respectively.

When young farmers were asked what they would do if they won €100,000, 55pc of them said they would invest most of it on their farm. A further 16.8pc of those surveyed said they would buy a house, while 16pc said they would put it in a bank account. Less than 1pc (0.8pc) said they would invest in stocks and shares and 2.3pc said they would blow it all.

Interestingly, while 3.8pc of them would give most of the money to their family, not one young farmer said they would give most of it to charity.

It appears that charity begins at home for young farmers.

Some 235 Macra members took part in the survey and 66.4pc of them were male and 33.6pc female.

The survey was conducted online, by phone and in person over the past fortnight.

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