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Sustainable Transition of the Rural Economy Through Generational Renewal

23 May 2024
Type Report

This project is a funded project conducted under the Department of Agriculture Food and the Marine (DAFM) 2021 funding programme. It is a collaboration between Maynooth University and Teagasc. The project provides some key recommendations for consideration by policymakers and industry stakeholders

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Generational renewal is fundamental to the sustainability of agriculture in Ireland and in many other countries around the world. The information gained in this project makes a significant contribution to research and delivers knowledge for practice and policy around generational renewal.

Sustainable generational renewal programmes necessitate a dual focus. They require a framework of supports for adequate retirement income provisioning for retiring farmers (and their dependants) within a clear exit strategy from the farm. Secondly, a framework to provide farm successors and new entrants a formal route to farm ownership is required. Most farms in Ireland operate as sole-traders and this can hinder family-farm transfers and act as a barrier for new entrants. Collaborative farming and alternative farm business structures offer potential frameworks for families to farm together and for new entrants to join the industry, but to date have low adoption in Irish agriculture.

Accordingly, this project has two research objectives (RO’s):

RO1:To conduct a comprehensive review of collaborative farming and alternative farm business structures in Irish agriculture, its role in farm succession and in attracting/facilitating new entrants, thereby developing a framework for the integration of alternate farm business structures into start-up/succession and retirement planning.

RO2:To conduct a comprehensive review of retirement income provisioning in Irish agriculture, its impact on farm succession and on living standards of retired farmers (including their dependants), thereby developing a sustainable model for farm succession which supports both successors/new entrants and retiring farmers.

Through an in-depth review of the literature, the conduction of cross county comparative analysis using a desk-based research approach, the completion of qualitative interviews with farmers and agricultural advisors, and the conduction of a survey with farmers, this study develops a comprehensive understanding of the role of collaborative farming arrangements and pension provision for the farming community to address the generational renewal challenge. This executive summary profiles the key project findings and recommendations.