One in four older farmers yet to identify a successor
A successor has yet to be identified by more than half of farmers aged 41 or over, while more than a quarter of those aged 61 or over are in the same position.
A recent survey carried out at INHFA meetings in the west and northwest found that 53pc of farmers aged 41 or over had still not chosen a successor.
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More surprising, however, was that 27pc of the respondents aged 61 or over had not identified a successor.
The survey of 406 farmers included 341 who were aged 41 or over, and 98 farmers aged 61 and over.
While just 36pc of farmers aged between 41 and 50 had an identified successor, this figure increased to 52pc for those aged between 51 and 60.
In the 61-65 age bracket, 61pc of farmers had an identified successor, while this figure rose to 88pc for those aged 66 and over.
Just 16pc of the farmers surveyed were under the age of 41. A quarter of the respondents were aged between 41 and 50, while 35pc were in the 51-60 age bracket. Close to a quarter (26pc) of the farmers surveyed were aged 61 or over.
The survey's findings will come as little surprise to those working in the hill farming sector. They have consistently raised fears about land abandonment and excess afforestation in parts of the west and northwest due to the age profile of farmers and the absence of planned succession.
Commenting on the survey, Vincent Roddy of the INHFA said it was concerning that 39pc of farmers between the ages of 60 and 65 had no successor identified.
"A wider survey on this particular group may be required to help establish why this is the case and what can be done to address it," Mr Roddy noted.
"Ensuring there are young farmers coming in is critical to the future of the industry.
"Clearly, succession is an issue that needs careful consideration for both the potential new entrant and for the farmer that is retiring."