EU may face succession crisis with a third of farmers over 65

EU farming may face a succession crisis with one in three farm-holding managers aged over 65, a trend which is reflected in the UK.

More than 31% of the 10.8m farms in the EU’s 28 member states were managed by farmers over 65 in 2013, according to a report by Eurostat, the body responsible for producing statistics for the EU’s institutions, with only 6% managed by those younger than 35. 

Almost a quarter were aged between 55 and 64. 

See more: Why it’s time to talk about succession planning

In the UK, 30.6% of farmers were aged over 65, more than 65% were aged from 35 to 64, while only 3.9% were below 35.

According to the report, Portugal had the highest rate of farmers over 65, at 50.1%, with just 2.5% under 35.

Including the UK and Portugal, 14 of the EU’s 28 member states had over a third of farmers aged over 65; Romania (41%), Cyprus (40%), Italy (39.7%), Bulgaria (36.7%), Lithuania (34.0%), Spain and Croatia (both 33.3%).

At the opposite end of the scale, Germany had the lowest proportion of older farmers, with 6.5% over 65.

Austria followed, with 8.6% over 65, with Poland having 9.6%. Austria and Poland were the only two countries to have over 10% of farmers aged below 35, at 10.9% and 12.1%, respectively.

“The lowest proportions of young farmers were recorded in Cyprus – where 1.7% of all holding managers were aged below 35 – Denmark and Portugal (both 2.5%) and the Netherlands (3.1%),” said the report.