New young farmers’ leader says older age profile of farmers is ‘unbelievable’

Macra president calls for a land use audit

Mon, May 13, 2013, 01:04

There are more farmers over the age of 80 than under 35, yet little has been done to address this “unbelievable” scenario, new Macra na Feírme president Kieran O’Dowd told the rural youth organisation’s AGM in Cork on Saturday.

He called on Minister for Agriculture Simon Coveney to order a land use audit to find out exactly how land is being farmed and by whom. “If those statistics were applied to any other profession, trade or sector, there would be an outcry and proper provision made to address the serious imbalance,” Mr O’Dowd said.

He said 7 per cent of farmers in Germany were over 65 while in France, 13 year cent were. “Compare this to Ireland where over 25 per cent of our farmers are over 65,” he said. “We must look at ensuring that Ireland’s land is utilised to its maximum productive extent.We must also develop and promote more effective means of collaboration between farmers through partnerships, share farming and similar arrangements.”

Mr O’Dowd, from Gurteen, Co Sligo, replaced Alan Jagoe as president of the rural youth organisation at the weekend. He said the issue of land mobility and succession would be a priority during his tenure.