Some 14,000 farmers in England are aged 65 or over according to the latest figures from Defra – that’s 25 per cent of the total number. And more than half are older than 55 years old.
This is one of the reasons why the CLA is promoting a major new share farming initiative in a bid to help thousands of young people get their first foot on the farming ladder. We are calling for farming businesses in the Fenland area to consider entering into one of these agreements to facilitate new and younger entrants starting in the industry.
If just a quarter of the country’s farmers aged over 65 entered into a share farming agreement, it would allow more than 3,000 new entrants to start working within the industry.
At its most simple, share farming is where two farmers agree to work together to share the farming of some land. They remain independent, with one farmer – the owner – providing land, buildings, fixed equipment and machinery, and the other farmer – the operator – providing the working machinery and the labour.
With a traditional farming arrangement, the farmer is either in or out. Share farming, on the other hand, provides a middle ground whereby an ageing farmer, who perhaps cannot afford to retire, can start to wind-down without having to worry about how they are going to pay the bills.
There are many advantages to this type of arrangement for both parties: the owner of the farm can allow the operator to use the farm without parting with possession as he might have done with a traditional tenancy arrangement, and there is also the ability to retain management input into the day-to-day decision making.
An entrant into a share farming agreement as an operator will need to find less initial capital than if they were embarking on a new tenancy or freehold purchase – and also benefit from the accrued knowledge and experience of the owner.
The great benefit of this arrangement is the parties bring different resources to the business in terms of assets, experience and abilities, and so may be able to create something bigger and better than either could alone, but without being tied together in either a partnership or a tenancy.
If this is something you would like to know more about or take further, then call the CLA East office on 01638 590429 or email firstname.lastname@example.org and we can help you look for people in the area interested in the opportunities share farming can provide.