A wider uptake of share farming could enable thousands of young people to get their first foot on the farming ladder according to the Country Land and Business Association.
If a quarter of the country’s farmers aged over 65 entered into share farming agreements, more than 3,000 new entrants could start working the land, the CLA said as it announced a new drive to encourage share farming at the Great Yorkshire Show.
But the campaign is “misguided”, the Tenant Farmers Association said. Chief executive George Dunn said share farming was a way for landowners to benefit from the tax system and that ministers were happy to back the farming model because it was “an easy win”. Instead, effort should be concentrated on securing more long term tenancy arrangements, he said.
CLA president Henry Robinson dismissed the TFA’s criticism, insisting now was the right time to promote share farming because agricultural college’s were full of potential new entrants who were interested in new ways of working: “Share farming not only offers older farmers a way of reducing their workload while maintaining an income but also gives new entrants an increasingly rare opportunity to start a career in agriculture.”
The farming model differs from traditional contract farming, in that both parties share the risk and the profits on a pre-agreed percentage. The existing farmer provides a proportion of his farmland for the partner to deploy their own workforce and machinery.
Environment Minister Owen Paterson said he believes the arrangement had a lot to offer.
“Share farming gives new entrants more opportunities to start a business and build up their skills drawing from farmers with many years’ experience.”