Dáil Éireann - Volume 567 - 22 May, 2003

Written Answers. - Farm Retirement Scheme.

  68. Mr. Eamon Ryan asked the Minister for Agriculture and Food his views on the statistic that 27% of Irish farms have no foreseeable successor. [14058/03]

  Minister for Agriculture and Food (Mr. Walsh): The recent Agricultural Consultants Association study set out in an opinion poll format certain statistics with regard to farm succession and what was perceived as the lack of a successor to take over certain farms.

  I would agree that this can be seen as a worry for those who wish to see continuity in farming and that a family tradition of ownership would continue into future generations but there are optimistic signs with regard to the structure of Irish farming. A recently released EUROSTAT survey indicates that Ireland has one of the best [730]age profiles within the European Community with significantly more farmers under 35, 13% as against an EU average of 8%, and fewer farmers over the age of 55, 40% as against an EU average of 52%. I believe that the range of policies that my Department has adopted with regard to encouraging young farmers to enter or stay in farming is playing a major role in maintaining a good age structure in Irish farming and in solving the succession problem.

  Question No. 69 answered with Question No. 16.