YFCU President Roberts Simmons is confirming that large numbers of young farmers have applied for the Single Farm Top-Up under the new Pillar 1 CAP arrangements.
“I am not able to put an actual figure on it,” she said.
“But the feedback from the various clubs would indicate that many young people right across Northern Ireland are committing themselves to a future in agriculture. And, this is tremendously positive, both for the individuals concerned and our industry as a whole.
“Agriculture needs young blood. The average age of farmers in Northern Ireland is far too old at the present time.”
Tying in with these developments, Simmons is calling for DARD, CAFRE and all other relevant pubic bodies to improve the training resources made available to young people in rural areas.
“This is a crucially important issue,” she stressed.
“Anything that can be done to enhance the level of training for young farmers will allow them carry out their jobs more efficiently. It will also make them more employable outside production agriculture, should they opt to look at other career opportunities down the line.”
Simmons has also confirmed that the YFCU will launch a Land Mobility initiative later this year.
“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.
“My great fear is that if steps of this nature are not taken large tracts of land in Northern Ireland will fall into total disuse.”
The YFCU President also confirmed that initial meetings with the Ulster Farmers’ Union presidential team have already taken place on this issue.
“The scheme will be rolled out with the support of the Union,” she said.
“The principles are in place: we need to hammer out the details over the coming weeks and months. Macra na Feirme already has a pilot scheme of this nature working successfully in the Republic. And I see no reason why we cannot follow suit here in Northern Ireland.”