The abolition of milk quotas has increased opportunities for better land use models, to avail of energetic farming expertise.
For the past two years, guidance has been available to farmers, farm families and land owners taking advantage of the new opportunities, thinking about expansion, changing enterprise, or stepping back.
Since 2014, the Land Mobility Service (LMS) has offered expert, independent, and dedicated support for these progressive farmers.
The LMS is an FBD Trust-funded initiative, established by Macra na Feirme.
The service is supported by a range of stakeholders including Teagasc, the Department of Agriculture, the IFA and the food industry.
In Munster, Dairygold provides significant financial and logistical support.
Aurivo and Glanbia have provided financial and other support in their regions.
The focus is on delivery of workable and sustainable collaborative farming arrangements, overseen by the Land Mobility Programme Manager, Austin Finn.
What triggered the establishment of the service?
Studies had identified the need for dedicated land mobility support, with 26% of farmers aged over 65, and 48% of full time farmers having no identified farming successor.
Why are information and awareness so important?
Good land decisions can only be made when people have correct and relevant information.
People must be aware of their options and all the implications of various scenarios.
This is important not just for land owners and farm families but also their advisors and consultants.
Is the service delivering?
Delivery has exceeded all expectations.
The overriding aim of the service has been delivery of land mobility and access to land through collaborative farming arrangements.
Since its inception, the service has demonstrated that with dedicated independent expertise, farmers can be facilitated to enter into new collaborative arrangements, leading to a better return for both the farmer and the landowner.
Focused on its three pilot areas [in the Dairygold, Aurivo and Glanbia regions], the service has 360 clients and has delivered 138 arrangements.
On the ground, it is really making a difference.
Is the service only available to people in the pilot areas?
The pilot areas (Cork, Kilkenny and Roscommon) were established to focus effort and make the best use of limited resources.
They have demonstrated that where effort is focused, arrangements will be delivered.
The highest level of delivery has been in Cork.
Resources are now being put in place to go nationwide.
Is it all dairy-focused?
46% of clients are in dairying, and dairying is the most significant enterprise, as it has the greatest income earning potential per hectare.
The service supports all enterprises, and has facilitated arrangements across all.
What is the preferred arrangement type?
Long term leases are the most popular arrangement, accounting for 41% of arrangements delivered.
Leasing is clean and simple, provides excellent tax breaks for land owners, and provides access to land at a known cost for a defined period.
However, leasing does not suit in all circumstances, demonstrating the need to have a range of options.
Almost 60% of the arrangements facilitated were an option other than leasing.
What about share farming?
Share farming is where two or more people come together to farm the same piece of ground.
This option suits land owners who are not yet ready to retire, and new entrants who have the farming skills but not the finance or equity to take on a significant lease.
Are there examples of people participating in arrangements, that others could talk to?
Yes, on one side, there are land owners who are stepping back or expanding through sharing, and on the other side, there are young farmers and new entrants who are establishing themselves in farming through collaborative arrangements.
What type of land owners are engaging with the service?
The land owners all want to see their farms properly looked after.
There would be three main types of farms:
Working farms with sufficient scale and infrastructure, where the owner looking to step back.
Farms with potential, but investment required, the owner not in a position to do it alone.
Farm or land block with insufficient scale to be a stand-alone operation, suitable as a support block or to add on to an existing operation.
What is the most important thing in developing an arrangement?
The most important thing is finding the right person.
For an arrangement to be successful and sustainable, both parties must have a similar vision for the farm.
This is more important than the arrangement type or price. The arrangement type and price or share will be what works for everyone.
This is where the expert independent facilitation of the Land Mobility Service is so important, the arrangement must work for and deliver for all parties.
You can contact Austin Finn at 086 2541425 or email@example.com for more information (or see landmobility.ie).
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