'There's a future for every farm and it may or may not be within the family directly'

Claire Fox

Claire Fox

Farmers have been urged to keep an open mind on the many new options out there as the industry expands post-quota.

Teagasc researcher Páidí Kelly encouraged farmers attending the Positive Farmers dairy conference in Cork to look at their farms in a new light after centuries where family farms have traditionally been handed down to the next generation.

"I would still consider leasing, share farming or partnerships as still family farming, but between two families," he said.

"We, as an industry, need to start thinking a little differently. There's a future for every farm and it may or may not be within the family directly."

The potential high incomes of leasing make it the most popular alternative farm business structure in Ireland, according to the Teagasc researcher.

Mr Kelly said the high incomes of up to €80,000, that can be earned when a couple co-own the land and rent for 15-years means the popularity of this structure is set to grow. "Leasing at the moment is the most popular for financial reasons in that, for a farmer thinking of leasing their farm, if they co-owned the farm they can earn up to €40,000 each or €80,000 in total," he said.

"It's definitely financially the most attractive."

While other structures such as share milking and partnerships can allow the farmer to stay involved, Mr Kelly pointed out that leasing arrangements can be altered to still allow for landowner involvement.

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"In partnerships or shared farming there is an opportunity for the farmer to stay more involved, but the great thing about farm business structures is they can be structured to suit the people involved," he said.

"I know a leasing arrangement where the farmer has kept all of his machinery and now does all the machinery work on the farm for a contracting fee. So just because the farmer leases his farm, it doesn't mean he is inactive or fully retired.

"That's the great thing about all these structures - depending on the needs of the people, they can try and work out the best arrangement together.

"Whatever structure you choose, the most successful ones are when all parties get on with each other."

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