Of the 10.5m farmers in the EU, 6m are over the age of 55. Agriculture is the sector where it is most common for people to continue working past retirement age. For every 100 farmers over the age of 55, there are just nine under the age of 35.
Efforts to attract younger farmers and support exiting older farmers are not unique to Ireland. Tax incentives, partnership programmes, retirement schemes and supports for young farmers have all been trialled in different countries. Compared to the rest of the EU, Ireland falls in the middle of the pack. Latest statistics show 74,550 famers (54%) are over the age of 55 here, compared to the EU average of 58%. On a measure of young farmers, there are 8,260 (6%) under the age of 35, slightly above the EU average of 5%. Supporting generation renewal is one of the nine key objectives of the next CAP. To address this, the European Commission has focused on providing supports to young farmers. Over the lifetime of the most recent CAP, almost €6.5bn has been spent on young farmer top-ups and installation aid.