Attracting young people to farm life a daunting challenge

IT should concentrate minds to realise almost half of Irish land holders will have retired within a decade, and the succession rate on farms is very low, as is the number of new entrants taking up farming.

It looks like a major challenge to promote the merits and advantages of a career in full-time farming, versus the quality of life, more sociable hours and often better incomes which qualified young people can look forward to elsewhere. There was a time when the stay-at-home farmer’s son, who inherited the land, was seen as the advantaged one, and was often envied. Those days are history. Today, the inheritor may be asset rich, but is income poor.

Farming parents are finding it increasingly difficult to refrain from encouraging their sons and daughters to concentrate on acquiring academic qualifications for careers outside of farming. Many serious farmers, very efficient producers in a very demanding market, question the low return on capital and hard work, compared to the return on the same capital invested outside of farming.

Even for those inheriting a well-run farm, acquiring another qualification is a high priority, and ultimately farming is more likely to be only a part-time exercise. The greatest challenge which organisations like Teagasc face is research into how farming can provide better quality of life, more socially attractive hours of work, and a reasonable income.

Although the Celtic Tiger affluence outside of farming is losing some of its shine, and job opportunities may not be as plentiful in the future, attracting more young people to life on the land remains a daunting challenge.


Bryan Stevenson is the American civil rights lawyer who provided the inspiration for the newly-released film Just Mercy. Esther McCarthy spoke to him in IrelandReal-life lawyer Bryan Stevenson on inspiring Just Mercy

So I’ve booked my holidays. And before you ask, yes, I’m basing it around food and wine. I’ll report back in July, but I thought readers might be interested in my plan should you be thinking about a similar holiday.Wines to pick up on a trip to France

Esther N McCarthy is on a roll for the new year with sustainable solutions, cool citruses and vintage vibes.Wish List: Sustainable solutions, cool citruses and vintage vibes

They have absolutely nothing really to do with Jerusalem or indeed with any type of artichoke, so what exactly are these curious little tubers?Currabinny Cooks: Exploring the versatility of Jerusalem artichokes

More From The Irish Examiner