The Young Farmers' Clubs of Ulster (YFCU) announces the successful conclusion of the Land Mobility Scheme, marking six years of empowering the next generation of agricultural leaders and fostering rural development. Launched in 2017, the scheme has played a pivotal role in addressing the challenges faced by young farmers in accessing land and resources while facilitating seamless intergenerational transitions within the agricultural sector. The scheme will conclude on 31st August 2023, making way for a new pilot scheme.
John McCallister, Land Mobility Manager with Stuart Mills, Young Farmers Clubs of Ulster President.
The YFCU Land Mobility Scheme was a ground-breaking initiative aimed at bridging the gap between aspiring young farmers seeking opportunities and retiring landowners looking to transition their properties. Over the course of six years, the scheme effectively facilitated 125 deals covering 19,000 acres of land across the whole of Northern Ireland with participants gaining mutually beneficial exchange of land, knowledge, and expertise.
A participant in the Land Mobility Scheme said, ‘I think it has helped to remove barriers to succession for those older farmers with no natural succession plan in place but wanting to ease back from farming and for those younger farmers wanting a route into the sector or scope to expand their businesses.’
There have been many benefits of the scheme, but the key highlights are:
Interconnectedness: The scheme promoted meaningful connections between aspiring young farmers and retiring landowners, fostering mentorship and knowledge sharing. These relationships led to a deeper understanding of traditional practices and innovative techniques, bridging the generational divide.
Sustainable Farming: By enabling young farmers to access land and resources, the scheme contributed to the continued vibrancy and growth of the agricultural sector. New ideas and technologies were infused into established farming operations, leading to enhanced sustainability and productivity.
Regional Prosperity: The scheme helped to boost rural communities and encouraging the retention of farming expertise within the region. This positive impact is hoped to not be limited solely to the farms directly involved but extended to agribusinesses, suppliers, and service providers.
Knowledge Transfer: Retiring landowners had the opportunity to pass down their invaluable experience and accumulated wisdom to the next generation. This transfer of knowledge can help ensure the preservation of time-honoured traditions while embracing innovative practices necessary for modern farming.
Collaborative Efforts: The YFCU collaborated with various stakeholders, including Ulster Farmer Union (UFU), Department of Agriculture, Environment, and Rural Affairs (DAERA), NFU Mutual Charitable Trust, Dairy Co-ops - Dale Farm, Lakeland Dairies, Glanbia Cheese, Aurvivo, Livestock and Meat Commission (LMC) and Northern Ireland Meat Exporters Association (NIMEA), to ensure the scheme's effectiveness and sustainability.
John McCallister, Land Mobility Manager, who has managed the scheme for the past 6 years.
Land Mobility Manager, John McCallister highlighted "While the chapter of the Land Mobility Scheme may be closing after six remarkable years, its legacy will forever remain a testament to the power of collaboration and progress in our farming communities. The bonds forged, the skills exchanged, and the innovations witnessed during this journey will continue to shape the future of our agricultural landscape."
As the YFCU Land Mobility Scheme concludes, the organisation expresses its deep gratitude to all the participants, partners, and supporters who contributed to its success. By recognising the importance of intergenerational collaboration and providing a platform for the exchange of land and expertise, the scheme has left a lasting mark on the agricultural landscape of Northern Ireland.
The YFCU remains committed to its mission of empowering young farmers and promoting the vitality of the agricultural sector. Although the Land Mobility Scheme is ending, the YFCU will continue to explore innovative ways to create opportunities, provide resources, and foster the growth of the next generation of agricultural leaders.
DAERA plans to launch a pilot scheme called Farming for the Generations in Autumn 2023. This scheme will have a wide range of support for farming families considering the transfer of their farm business from one generation to another. A service similar to Land Mobility will be provided within the new scheme. Enquiries can be directed to FarmingfortheGenerations@daera-ni.gov.uk .
Stuart Mills, Young Farmers Clubs of Ulster President, John McCallister, Land Mobility Manager, William Irvine, Vice President Ulster Farmers Union.