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Govt Urged To Address Farmer Age Imbalance

by 5m Editor
25 November 2011, at 10:33am

IRELAND - Irish Cattle and Sheep Farmers’ Association (ICSA), Munster vice-president, Edmond Phelan, has warned that age profile of Irish farmers is not conducive to productive farming and unless steps are taken to encourage the next generations into farming then the agri food sector will simply stagnate.

Only seven per cent of Irish farmers are under 35 years of age with 25 per cent of farmers in the country already over the age of 70.

Edmond Phelan said: “The age profile of Irish farmers is incredibly worrying and it would appear that the Government is being counterproductive in addressing the age imbalance of farmers. There are lofty and ambitious targets set out in the Food Harvest 2020 report that requires Irish agri-food exports to grow from €8 billion to €13 billion by 2020.

"This can only be achieved with an able and committed workforce. Unless measures are taken to open doors for younger, more vibrant farmers to own land and run successful businesses then by 2020 we will a very aged population of farmers who will not have achieved the targets for expansion.

“The Government needs to address some serious concerns among the farming community with regard to inheritance taxes. It is widely thought that in next month’s Budget the Government will increase capital acquisitions taxes and this has the potential to significantly stunt the growth of the only sector leading the way in the Irish economy.

“If a young farmer, now without the prospect of an Installation Aid grant, is faced with a tax bill for tens of thousands of euro for transferring the family farm into their name it will simply deter him or her from even looking into the prospect of taking over the running of the farm. We are in an exciting period in the agri food sector but more young farmers need to be given every opportunity to enter the workforce and there is a huge onus on the Government to ensure that farming isn’t confined to being a professional for the older generations,” Mr Phelan concluded.