Funding of €100,000 will be provided for the Land Mobility Service in 2023, Minister for Agriculture Charlie McConalogue announced at the launch of the Land Mobility Service Report on Wednesday 29 March in Buswell's Hotel.
In 2021, the service received a contribution worth €50,000 and in the last two years it has been doubled to €100,000.
A report carried out by UCD, which looked at the impact of the service and its future, found that 1,080 enquiries came into the service in 2022. This is the most it has ever received.
Almost half of the enquiries were from older farmers looking to take a step back, while 35% of the enquiries were from young farmers or new entrants.
Overall, since the service was set up in 2015, it has facilitated over 900 arrangements between farmers and has involved 75,000ac of land.
"The Land Mobility Service, for nearly a decade, has been one of the great success stories of Irish agriculture. It has played a huge role in facilitating the movement of land from those who have to those who need through innovative systems," said Minister McConalogue.
"It has also given farmers the opportunity to step back, step aside or change their system entirely and drive new impetus into their farm," he said.
No other farm organisation, I believe, could have done what Macra has done here with the Land Mobility Service
The Minister said that the service works particularly well alongside the Department’s collaborative farming scheme to encourage partnership, in particular between older and younger farmers, which has also been continued under the new CAP strategic plan and will be launched later this year.
"Macra, since 2015, has been the driver of the service and has played such an enormous role in getting it to where it is today.
"No other farm organisation, I believe, could have done what Macra has done here with the Land Mobility Service," the Minister said.
Macra president John Keane welcomed the provision of the €100,000 for the service in 2023. However, he said that "it is not enough" and there is "only so much three men can do".
Programme co-ordinator Austin Finn works closely with Patrick Brady and Mícheál Larkin in facilitating these farm partnerships.
"The service needs to be expanded and the funding needs to come from the National Exchequer.
"[Then European] Commissioner [for Agriculture and Rural Development Phil] Hogan in 2017 called the service as being an exemplary service and something that can be followed across Europe.
"The Commission themselves wrote it in their own SWOT analysis in 2019. We then had negotiations at European level for the strategic CAP plan and was also mentioned there.
"We see the farmer clubs in Northern Ireland and we see the Slovenians who are funding the service from national exchequer funding as well.
"At the same time, our service support has been the same for two years. We need to see this service growing as a national footprint," Keane argued.
Austin Finn said at the launch that the service would require €1m per year to adequately fund the service.