Partnership backing from Macra members

Caitriona Murphy

Young farmers have voted overwhelmingly in favour of partnership farming, according to the Macra na Feirme survey.

More than 85pc said they would consider farming in partnership with a family member or neighbour in an attempt to increase their income and improve their lifestyle.

One of the factors behind the enthusiasm for partnership farming is undoubtedly the availability of land. Some 56pc said that farm fragmentation was an issue for them.

The farmers listed expansion as their number one priority when considering a partnership. This was followed by time management considerations, husbandry and quality of life.

Macra na Feirme president Alan Jagoe described land mobility and farm fragmentation as a major roadblock for the future expansion of Irish agriculture.

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"Figures indicate the average farm has 3.5 different parcels of land, creating huge inefficiencies, and this figure is generally magnified among young farmers who often acquire or inherit small parcels of land," he said.

"Annual sales account for only 0.5pc of total land and long-term leases represent 7pc of land farmed. Land leasing options need to be further encouraged and utilised and the tax incentives better promoted among farmers."

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He added that the culture of collaborative arrangements such as farm partnerships and share farming was under-developed and under-utilised.

"The removal of the remaining barriers and the creation of incentives for collaborative arrangements among farmers is essential to maximise land mobility," he said.

"In last year's Budget, the extension of a special stock relief measure for registered dairy partnerships was welcome.

However, other sectors outside dairying need incentives to encourage farmers to enter partnerships or other collaborative arrangements."

Mr Jagoe said a comprehensive study on farm succession and collaborative arrangements would be conducted later in the year.

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