Fianna Fáil local election candidate for the greater Rhode area Robert Kellaghan is calling for generational renewal for Offaly farms.
He commented, “there are 3,450 farms approximately in Offaly (CSO 2012) with more than half of farms being farmed full time and the remainder being farmed part time. Of the total farms in the county, just over 200 farmers are under 35 years old and nearly four times that (800) are over 65 years old.
“Farmers are getting older and the industry needs new blood if ambitious growth targets of food production are to be met. Pre 2008 generation changeover was encouraged through installation aid (direct financial aid to young trained farmers) and retirement payments to retiring farmers.
“With the imminent implementation of the CAP proposals the young farmer top-up is being presented as an alternative installation aid scheme which was ended abruptly. Welcome as it is I don’t believe it will encourage the older generation of farmers to step aside- This will at the expense of new people entering the industry.
“With the wind turbine saga many landowners have or intended to sign land agreements and they have said to me in confidentiality that it was in some cases to provide the means of allowing a younger son take on the farm and farm in their own right, or provide retirement pension to the guys who cant farm as hard as they used to because time has caught up on them.
“The point is not that some people needed turbines to sustain themselves its that some people need assistance to sustain Rural Ireland. I am calling for the retention of current schemes like stock relief (due to end in 2015) and look at a new installation aid scheme and early retirement scheme,” explained Mr Kellaghan.