Land Mobility Programme reaches key milestone

​The Land Mobility Programme is confirming the attainment of a milestone target for the project: the coordination of new farm business agreements, covering 20,000ac of land.
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“Land mobility continues to make a real difference in driving generational change within local agriculture,” confirmed project manager John McCallister.

He added:“This work has impacted at a number of levels. First-off the programme has helped significant numbers of farm families to plan the transition that takes place from one generation to the next in a structured and co-ordinated manner.

“In addition, the programme has succeeded in developing real opportunities for young people from outside of farming or who have no prospect of directly inheriting a farming business, to develop meaningful businesses within the industry.

John McCallister, the man in charge of Northern Ireland's Land Mobility ProgrammeJohn McCallister, the man in charge of Northern Ireland's Land Mobility Programme
John McCallister, the man in charge of Northern Ireland's Land Mobility Programme

“And, finally Land Mobility has worked to ensure that older farmers, who have spent many years building up a sustainable business, can transition towards retirement while still ensuring that these resources are fully retained.”

The Land Mobility Programme was launch at the beginning of September 2017. John McCallister has been at the helm of the programme from the outset.

“The project was conceived to meet a specific need within local agriculture,” he stressed.

“The average age of a farmers in Northern Ireland is 58 years. This is far too old.

“All industries must be structured to allow new, young blood come in and make a real difference. And agriculture is no different in this regard.”

Along the way, the programme has had its fair share of challenges to overcome, the Covid pandemic being one of them.

“Despite this, the momentum behind the project continued to build,” John McCallister further explained.

“And we know that further changes can be made at government level to further boost the impact of land mobility.

“Securing relevant tax change is one of these. However, this is not that easy a nut to crack, given that HMRC in London is the only body that can agree changes of this nature."

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“However, we know from the experience gained in the Republic of Ireland that changes of this nature do drive significant change within agriculture as a whole.”

Land Mobility will mark its sixth anniversary later this year. John McCallister is confident that the project will continue to build momentum into the future, possibly within a programme looking more widely at generational change within agriculture.

He said: “The growing role for young people within agriculture is obvious. Technological change is taking place within the industry at an exponential rate.

“Issues such as carbon foot printing, quantifying what constitutes a sustainable farming business in tandem with the data capturing and actual information gathering that are now at the very heart of the day-to-day farming operations are challenging the abilities and energy levels of producers on a daily basis.

“The reality is that young people are best qualified and suited to meet these challenges.

John McCallister concluded: “The Land Mobility programme has been developed to speed-up the rate of generational change within local agriculture.

“And it’s important that we find ways of making this process as effective as we possibly can.”