New entrants initiative: Finding farmers with land that needs working
Farmers wanting to find entrepreneurs to share or work their land can now rely on a new matchmaking service, piloted by Fresh Start Land Enterprise Centre (FSLEC).
Supported by The Prince’s Countryside Fund and the Frank Parkinson Agricultural Trust, the initiative aims to bring those seeking business, and those with an opportunity to offer together, and is set to launch in early 2016.
A similar initiative launched by the National Sheep Association (NSA) brings together young people looking for a job with NSA members willing to take on a young starter.
Joanne Briggs, NSA communications manager, said NSA’s matchmaking schemes were proving increasingly popular with young people using them as a way to find employment or work experience.
She said: “We have an extensive membership of sheep farmers, many of whom are keen to help the next generation, so we use our various communication routes to encourage those members to get in touch if they can offer someone a job or a work placement.
“The NSA Lambing List is another successful matchmaking service, with a large number of NSA members posting details online of the help they need at lambing time.”
FSLEC has been working closely with the CLA, National Federation of Young Farmers (NFYFC) and Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) in order to collate ideas for the new project.
Lynsey Martin, chairman of the NFYFC Agri steering group, said: “It’s a concept other young farmer organisations have explored and we are happy to share our research findings to help develop systems that deliver much-needed career opportunities.”
FSLEC offers matching opportunities in England and Wales and is developing work in Scotland.
Young Farmers start research into land succession
Young Farmers’ Clubs of Ulster (YFCU) has started research into a new Land Mobility Initiative with the support of the Ulster Farming Union (UFU).
The scheme is now gaining traction with the development of a research proposal aiming to determine the future short and long term plans, relating to farming and land ownership.
According to the Irish Land Mobility Service, only 6 per cent of farmers are under 35, and 26 per cent are over 65. This age imbalance is compounded by the fact that many older farmers do not have a farming successor.
President of YFCU, Roberta Simmons said: “There are large numbers of farms in Northern Ireland where there are no succession arrangements in place. We now intend putting older farmers facing this challenge in touch with younger colleagues who can then develop long-term development projects for the farms in question on an agreed basis.”