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HomeBeefLand mobility: ‘Options for landowners, opportunities for young farmers’
Catherina Cunnane
Catherina Cunnane
Catherina Cunnane hails from a sixth-generation drystock and specialised pedigree suckler enterprise in Co. Mayo. She currently holds the positions of editor and general manager at That's Farming, having joined the firm during its start-up phase in 2015.
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Land mobility: ‘Options for landowners, opportunities for young farmers’

In this article, That’s Farming editor, Catherina Cunnane, is in conversation with Mícheál Larkin from the Land Mobility Service, covering western counties, which he describes as “options for landowners, opportunities for young farmers”.

In the first segment of this two-part article, we look at what land mobility is, what the Irish Land Mobility Service has to offer, who it is suitable for and its benefits.

Land mobility is the provision of options to landowners to enhance their farming and land assets and the provision of opportunities to current and new farmers to enter a new / expand their current situation.

This can be through matching, succession planning, or advisory.

Macra na Feirme established the Irish Land Mobility Service in 2014 with the financial support of FBD Trust and many stakeholders.

The Land Mobility Service is a nationwide independent generational renewal, land access facilitation and matching service with funding from industry, farmer participants and the Department of Agriculture, Food, and the Marine.

The service does not represent any one party; instead, the focus is delivering a sustainable and win-win arrangement.

The service has a positive impact, and being independent, focused and of expert nature are major positives.

The focus is on delivering sustainable solutions that work for all parties.

Engagement with farmers and landowners has proven the benefit of and need for such a service.

The service is a Macra Na Feirme initiative focused on providing a subsidised, independent, and expert service that would promote and facilitate collaborative farming options for

Landowners and opportunities for young farmers.

Land mobility service

There are three key elements to the service:

  1. Create awareness and provide information;
  2. Facilitate and deliver arrangements, including matching;
  3. Support operating arrangements for both the owner and collaborator.

The service allows farmers and landowners to explore their options and put compatible farmers in contact with each other.

The service is primarily for anyone looking to the future, thinking of:

  • Stepping back/reducing workload/Who will calve cows next spring;
  • How will the new CAP and Nitrates Rules & other schemes impact me;
  • Succession planning & options for my farm;
  • Expansion, changing enterprise, entering a partnership, share farming / joint-herd or:
  • Those seeking land/farming as a career.
  • Trying to get started as a young, trained farmer.
How does it work?

A landowner, farm family, young farmer or other contacts the service.

The service is 100% confidential and will act as an honest broker fully respecting all parties.

The only agenda is to find a workable and sustainable arrangement that will satisfy the needs of all parties

Following the initial contact, should a need be identified and/or it be apparent that the service can be of benefit, a consultation is arranged. Otherwise, information is exchanged for potential future follow-up.

All information exchange is without obligation and is confidential.

At the initial consultation, meeting preferences, plans, history, farm details, and the like are ascertained, and the service is explained. We outline various options and scenarios together with related implications.

Should a family option exist, we explore this. Or outside the family, should a preferred collaborator already be identified, this is explored, and a subsequent meeting, in conjunction with this collaborator, is set up with a view to facilitating a solution that works for all parties.

If no potential collaborator exists, the service helps in trying to identify potential collaborators.

As part of the facilitation, matching, and solution-finding process, we encourage and advise all parties to consult with their own advisors (family, friends, agricultural consultant, accountant, solicitor, and others). If requested, the service will attend such meetings.

The service works towards the potential agreement, is confidential, independent, expert and without obligation.

Sustainable and fair 

The agreement must be sustainable and fair (budgets, farm plans, etc.). It must work for all parties (family, tax, Basic Payment Scheme, security, realism, etc.).

The final agreement type, terms, price/share, form etc., results from this process. The service, using approved templates, can help draft up the final agreement.

Where no potential collaborator is known or exists, the Land Mobility Service uses its database and adverts to help find people.

Expressions of interest are collected and discussed with landowners. Then, landowners will then invite preferred collaborators to visit the farm, after which farm plans and proposals are submitted.

We identify the potential collaborator, who best suits the landowner, and the service helps to facilitate an arrangement. In practice, this process works very well.

In 55% of cases, landowners had no known or potential collaborator in mind.

The service provides ongoing support and contact as needed by the parties for the duration of the arrangement.

Furthermore, it provides a mediation and support service for other scenarios or arrangements it may not have been involved in from the start.

Making an arrangement work 

For an arrangement to work, it will need to deliver to all parties:

  • Income security and enhancement;
  • Protection of assets and EU entitlements;
  • The land;
  • Quality of life and social benefits;
  • Tax efficiency;
  • Security of tenure for the farmer (protect & get payback on their investments in farm improvements).

Successful arrangements have led to a win-win for landowners and the farmer.

Financial benefits/incentives:

There are many financial incentives and benefits, including some not directly monetary related for all parties directly involved and outside the arrangement:

  • Tax-free income of up to €80,000;
  • Protection of BPS;
  • Enhancement of & protection of the farming asset – (land & buildings) with increased productivity & utilisation of land area;
  • Increase in production & profitability for the farmer
  • Security of tenure;
  • Provision of options for those with no land base to enter farming;
  • Enhancement & sustainability of the rural economy – provision & facilitation of new arrangements gives young farmers & their families options to stay in our local towns and villages. Many arrangements facilitated are for young farmers that may not be local to an area. They have set up base & families and added to the rural communities. Some have even set up other businesses in the locality – (farm shops, agri services, child/health care, community involvement etc., the individuals & families that these arrangements support are vital to support local services & the rural economy.

Austin Finn, a B. Ag graduate, chartered accountant and part-time farmer, heads up the team.

Austin has the financial and farming expertise to assist people in planning for their futures.

Patrick Brady, with a background in advisory, technical, dairy &and beef farming, is also involved.

Moreover, I (Mícheál), with a background in rural enterprise & agri-business, have experience in leadership and interpersonal skills.

I previously worked as a training development officer with Macra na Feirme and has farming experience both in Ireland and abroad.

The team consults together to ensure that we provide the best options and advice to all parties. We ensure their wishes are fully respected, in particular, the landowner’s rights.

What to consider

This is a no-obligation service; they encourage people to contact us and discuss their options.

We offer fair, impartial advice that benefits all parties involved. There can be false or misinterpreted information out there, and the service aims to provide clarity.

Only after you have all your options and information can you then make an informed decision on progression and consider options and outcomes.

For more information, you contact the service via email – at [email protected] or phone 086-0404002, and you will be directed to your local facilitator.

We will publish part two of this article on That’s Farming in the coming days.

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