Young farmers are poised to harness the tremendous advancements in technology which will help deliver a sustainable future for local agriculture, according to Young Farmers’ Clubs of Ulster (YFCU) president James Speers.
“This is already happening. However, the momentum associated with this welcome development will gather further traction during the period ahead.”
Speers was talking in advance of today’s (Saturday) YFCU annual meeting, taking place in Armagh.
He added: “Young farmers have the energy and initiative to drive forward real change within agriculture. The challenge to feed the world’s fast-growing population must be met. The technologies are now coming on stream, which can make this achievable. And it is young farmers who will be best placed to utilise these advancements for the benefit of food and farming as a whole.”
Turning to Brexit, Speers said that the voice of young farmers must be heard when it comes to putting in place the new support policies that will be made available to the industry.
“YFCU has already played a key role in putting forward policies that will meet this need. We have extensively canvassed our membership on Brexit. This has helped YFCU to put forward policy options that will allow agriculture to flourish in the post Brexit area.
“Our perspectives have been communicated widely to all other stakeholder groups. And this momentum will be maintained in the run-up to Brexit.”
Speers confirmed that young farmers must have access to the land that they will need to allow them build sustainable farming businesses.
“Our Land Mobility service is starting to play a key role in this regard. It is helping older farmers to put effective succession plans in place,” he said.
“But more than this it is also helping to ensure that every available acre of land in Northern Ireland can be farmed effectively.
“Only 18% of the farm land in Northern Ireland is at an optimal fertility level. Our current reliance on conacre as a land leasing system has served to bring this state-of-affairs about. The development of longer term leasing arrangements will help to rectify this problem.”
Speers confirmed that YFCU membership levels continue to grow.
“We have just broken through the 3,000 barrier and the prospects are that this figure will continue to grow.
“YFCU is and will continue to be the effective voice of young people right across Northern Ireland.”