We are taking a look at farming in our blog today, with Land Mobility Programme manager John McCallister speaking about the importance of generational renewal in the farming community in Northern Ireland, and how this must be a priority for policy makers.
Establishing New Support Measures For Farming
Talking about the latest discussion document in an article on the Agriland website, John comments that:
“The current policy review gives farming, as a whole, a unique opportunity to establish new support measures that will allow it to grow and develop on a sustainable basis for many years to come,” the land-mobility manager said.
“And generational renewal will be an important part of the plans set in place for the future. Young people bring with them tremendous enthusiasm, energy and new ideas.
“It’s also evident that the vast majority of farmers coming to the end of their active careers want to see their businesses passed on to the next generation and maintained as active concerns.
“If this cannot be achieved within a family group, then land mobility can act to help find young people with the right skill sets and attitude that can take on the running of the business in full compliance with the owners’ wishes.”
Taking Advantage Of The Land Mobility Initiative
He also spoke about the fact that more young people were taking advantage of the land mobility initiative than the older generation, saying:
“This development reflects the real demand that exists among younger people to develop careers in production agriculture.”
“The average farmer age in Northern Ireland is still too high. The good news is that the Land Mobility Programme is making a genuine difference when it comes to offering younger people an opportunity to develop sustainable careers within the various farming sectors.”
Smoothing Out The Process For Generational Change
But he also pointed out the need for the Stormont Executive to smooth out the process for generational change in the farming industry, saying:
“One obvious way forward is the introduction of tax changes that will encourage the establishment of new working relationships between farmers who want to retire and younger people seeking long term leasing, or other business relationships with older landowners.
“Taxation is not a devolved matter, so it will require decisions being taken by Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs – the HMRC – in London to give the Land Mobility Programme the boost it needs.
“If we had a scenario within which land rental incomes could be availed of on a tax-free basis by an older landowner who have entered into a long-term leasing arrangement with a younger farmer, this could transform the means through which large areas of land can be kept in productive use.
“Such an arrangement could provide the older person with a very valuable pension pot, while allowing the younger person to develop a sustainable, long-term business venture.”
A number of farms use our services to sort out their accounts so we have a wealth of experience in this sector. If you need the advice and help of an accountant please get in touch with our offices on 028 3752 2909.