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Access to land is biggest barrier facing young farmers

Access to land, either to buy or to rent, is by far the biggest issue facing young farmers in the EU.
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Subsidies, access to credit and the availability of labour are also issues for new entrants
Subsidies, access to credit and the availability of labour are also issues for new entrants

The results, gathered from interviews with about 75 young farmers from each of the 28 member states, revealed obtaining land, either to buy or to rent was one of the biggest barriers to getting started.

 

Tenant Farmers Association chief executive George Dunn said the survey results confirmed the group’s own experience.

 

“There are lots of keen, young people looking for opportunities but they are few and far between," said Mr Dunn.

 

“Big problems are the extent to which existing owner occupied farmers are prepared to pay over the odds for access to additional acres and price young farmers out of the market and also the number of farmers preferring to use contract farming to preserve subsidy payments rather than retiring and making their land available to new entrants.

 

“It is time the Government looked at measures, perhaps through the taxation regime, to break this logjam."

 

The study, supported by the European Commission as part of the ‘pilot project exchange programme for young farmers’, also showed the next generation were hungry for knowledge, with 70 per cent after technological information applicable to their own farm. More than 60 per cent were keen to develop a farm strategy.

 

Young farmers also appear to rate the importance of marketing skills and improved animal welfare alongside more traditional knowledge gaps such as management of staff and finances.

 

The internet has, perhaps unsurprisingly, become the number one source of information, with more than 80 per cent now using it. Field days and excursions are only just behind, followed by individual advice.

 

Around nine in 10 respondents said they used other farmers as a source of information. Of those surveyed in the UK, almost 93 per cent turned to their peers for help. Farmer associations and consultants were also considered important.

 

UK young farmers are among the most time-pressed – more than two thirds (68 per cent) said there were not enough hours in the day to get all the information they need. Across the EU, 30 per cent said costs and ‘too many different sources’ had them struggling to obtain the information they required.

 

More than 70 per cent also said they had no time to join an exchange scheme. Indeed, participation in an exchange scheme is low (less than one in five) with today’s young farmers favouring social media and e-discussions. More than 40 per cent of UK farmers have used e-learning and social media including Twitter and Facebook to improve their knowledge and access information.

 

Biggest challenges:

  1. Access to land
  2. Subsidies
  3. Qualified labour

 

Top sources of information:

  1. Other farmers
  2. Farmers’ associations
  3. Agricultural consultants

 


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Young farmers in numbers:

  • 14% - number of farmers aged 40 or under in the EU
  • 93% - UK farmers that look to other farmers for advice
  • 68% - UK farmers that say lack of time is a barrier to learning
  • 59% - UK farmers that think positively about exchange schemes
  • 52% - UK farmers that want to develop entrepreneurial skills
  • 63% - UK farmers that want to develop technical and managerial skills
  • 5% - UK farmers that have participated in an exchange

 

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