Some 70% of farm collaborations facilitated by Macra’s Land Mobility Service include a young farmer (under 40), programme manager Austin Finn has told the Irish Farmers Journal.

The service engages with between 300 and 400 farmers and land owners annually.

“Those who engage are in a position and are willing to explore and invariably pursue collaborative farming options including leasing, partnerships and shared arrangements,” Finn said.

About 45% of those who engage are landowners looking to step back, most of whom are of retirement age and need help exploring and pursuing options for their farm.

The other 55% are made up of startup young trained farmers (20%), existing farmers who are not starting up but still under the age of 40 (18%), and older farmers (17%) who are predominantly aged 40 to 50.

Finn said that for young farmers and especially new entrants, it is important that there are a range of support structures and collaboration options.

“Otherwise they can be at a disadvantage when compared to more established operators,” he said.

The service highlights that while engagement and arrangements have been actioned across all farming enterprises, dairying tends to be the main enterprise post-collaboration.

There are two principal reasons, according to Finn: “Younger farmers and new entrants most interested in collaborative farming or expansion tend to have dairy skills and dairy expertise.

“Secondly, dairying can generate a sustainable income under good management.

“While not impossible, it is harder to structure a win-win arrangement with other enterprises.”

Farming enterprises post-collaboration consist of 71% dairying, 14% beef, 9% tillage, 1% sheep and 5% mixed enterprises or other.