Minister announces funding increase for Land Mobility Service

Minister for Agriculture Charlie McConalogue last week announced a 100 per cent increase in funding for the Land Mobility Service, a programme which matches younger and older farmers aiming to create collaborative farming arrangements.

The Minister made the announcement during an address to the Macra Na Feirme national conference via Zoom on Friday last (26th).

“The Land Mobility Service has been one of the great success stories of agricultural policy over the past few years. I am a firm believer in using all the tools at our availability to leverage generational renewal,” he said.

“I am a firm supporter of the service and I know that as we transition through the next decade, the need to have an agile and fit-for-purpose Land Mobility Service will be crucial. The Department has provided annual funding to the Land Mobility Service of €50,000 and this has remained unchanged since its inception.

“I have decided to increase the Department’s contribution by 100 per cent for the year 2022. This is another clear example of my commitment to facilitating generational renewal in our sector”.

Reacting to the announcement, Macra President John Keane said: “This funding recognises the continued role that a Land Mobility Service can play in generational renewal.

“We look forward to the proposed engagement with the Department and Teagasc, and to continuing our engagement with the Department about the role that the service can play in the context of supporting the achievement of objectives of Generational Renewal within the future Common Agricultural Policy”.

The Minister also highlighted a 50 per cent increase in the national envelope ring-fenced for young farmers as well as proposals to raise the TAMS investment ceiling to €90,000 (from €80,000).

The conference, which was moderated by RTÉ’s Damien O’Reilly, also heard from Diana Lenzi, President of CEJA, the European Council of Young Famers; Eoin Lowry, Head of Agri with Bank of Ireland, and Declan McEvoy, Head of Tax with IFAC Accountants.

Mr. McEvoy said young farmers required a business plan to ensure the sustainability of family farms when it came to succession.

“A plan in the head is not a plan. Communication is critical five to ten years out from when the older farmer has a desired step back. It’s also important for the older farmer to realise that the young farmer may have different way or farming methodologies”.

Shane Fitzgerald, Chairman of Macra’s Agricultural Affairs Committee and Teagasc Signpost farmer said: “Farmers want to keep their environmental credentials and improve their sustainability, especially for the next generation.

“As young farmers we don’t want to contemplate production reductions, purely because it makes for an unattractive sector and doesn’t reflect the dynamic nature of Irish farming”.

Frank O’Meara, Director of Teagasc, said he believed Macra’s young farmers were very much up to the climate challenge: “There is a pathway to achieving those targets through the application of current, planned and future technologies. This is a pathway that we in Teagasc see, rather than a cull of the national herd”.

The conference also heard from UCD Economist Colm McCarthy as well as the CEO of Kerry Dairy and Chairman of Dairy Industry Ireland, Pat Murphy.