John McCallister, the manager of the new Land Mobility Programme for Northern Ireland, spoke at the November meeting of the UFU’s North Down group.
According to Mr McCallister, only 48% of local farmers over the age of 50 had identified a successor.
He added: “This is one of the core conclusions to come out of a recent Young Farmers’ Clubs of Ulster survey. We also know that the average age of a farmer in Northern Ireland is 58, while only 18% of our land is in a state of optimal fertility.
“These facts confirm a serious structural problem at the very heart of the farming industry, one which the new Land Mobility Programme has been drawn up to help address.”
Mr McCallister confirmed that the land mobility service will operate in a very flexible manner.
“It can take in a wide variety of future land use alternatives, from long term leasing through to share farming opportunities,” he said.
“My role is to match the needs of older landowners, wishing to retire or scale down their farming activities, with younger people wanting to develop a career in production agriculture.
“At the heart of all this will be the development of trust between both parties. And, naturally, it will take time for this to grow.”
For further information, contact John McCallister on 07833 668602.