In 10 years’ time half of all Irish farmers are going to be over 65 and this is a concern, head of agriculture at Bank of Ireland, Eoin Lowry has said.
Currently, one third of Irish farmers are over 65.
“We’ve backed farmers for generations, but if the demographic of the industry is changing that’s ultimately going to change how we need to bank as well,” Lowry told the European council of young farmers (CEJA) conference last week.
Fifty years ago when Ireland joined the EU, there were 250,000 farmers in Ireland, today we’ve about half that, Lowry said.
“If you look at predictions, and we’ve modelled this, between 2020 and 2030 we are going to lose another 10%-15% of farmers.
“If you break that down into a 10 year period, that’s 1,500 farmers a year,” he said.
From this Bank of Ireland modelling, Lowry explained that if there are 100 farmers in a room in 10 years’ time, eight of them are going to be under 35, eight will be between 35 and 45 and a further 50 of them will be over 65.
However, he said the greatest opportunity in the hands of young farmers today is that they have the ability to adapt to change much more easily.
Bank of Ireland, Lowry said, is also changing how it looks at loan applications from young farmers by adopting a “three-bucket” approach. This will see the actions that farmers are taking to reduce their environmental footprint taken into account when it comes to lending.