The potential for growth within Northern Ireland’s dairy sector will only be fully realised if every available acre is farmed efficiently and sustainably, according to John McCallister, the man in charge of the new Land Mobility Programme.
This unique service is jointly hosted by the Young Farmers Clubs of Ulster (YFCU) and the Ulster Farmers’ Union (UFU).
McCallister added: “Land mobility has always been an issue. Only six per cent of farmers are under 35 years of age while 26 per cent are over 65.
“This age imbalance is compounded by the fact that many older farmers, including milk producers, do not have a farming successor.
“Collaborative arrangements can be the key to delivering growth within our farming sectors while also addressing the age imbalance.
“The new service will facilitate various collaborative arrangements between farmers tailored to suit their specific farming situation, including farm partnerships, shared farming and long term leasing.”
McCallister was speaking in the run-up to this year’s Royal Ulster Winter Fair. He will be present on the Ulster Farmers’ Union stand throughout the event
“The new service will, genuinely, break new ground,” he added. “And all of the initial signs, regarding the future success of the project are extremely positive.
“Within the space of a few weeks, I have already received 120 enquiries from both landowners and those wishing to develop a career in production agriculture. A significant number of these enquiries have come from existing milk producers.”
“Of even more significance is the fact that, of those seeking to use the service, there is an almost 50:50 split between well-established farmers wishing to look at new land management options and those wanting to develop new career opportunities within agriculture.”
McCallister said that he would be getting in touch with all of those people enquiring about the new service over the coming weeks.
John McCallister can be contacted on 07833 668602.