Government funding is being provided in Northern Ireland to kick-start a “land mobility scheme”, aimed at linking up older farmers with no successor with younger farmers keen to expand their businesses.
The plans have been developed by the Ulster Farmers Union and the Young Farmers’ Clubs of Ulster (YFCU), based on a similar scheme, which is already operating in the Republic of Ireland.
In total, the department of agriculture for Northern Ireland has pledged £120,000 over two years to the project, with most of these funds being used to pay for a programme manager to run the initiative.
According to the YFCU’s advert, the manager’s primary role will be to promote land and enterprise mobility, through collective arrangements such as partnerships, shared farming arrangements and leases between younger farmers and older landowners.
This will involve setting up a database of interested farmers and establishing a brokerage service.
Welcoming the funding, YFCU president James Speers said: “This funding supports the clear desire of our members to bring innovation to the industry and develop more productive methods of land use.”
UFU president Barclay Bell added that the funds would help put farmers facing the challenge of succession in touch with younger farmers who want to get involved in farming.
A study released by the two organisations last year showed that 48% of farmers in Northern Ireland have no succession plans in place, while 77% of those farmers said they would need some form of income from the farm when they retire.