A wider uptake of share farming could enable thousands of young people to get their first foot on the farming ladder according to the CLA.
The CLA says that if just a quarter of the country’s farmers aged over 65 entered in to a share farming agreement it would allow more than 3,000 new entrants to start working the land.
Launching its major new drive to encourage share farming at the Great Yorkshire Show in Harrogate, CLA President Henry Robison said: “This is a simple solution to one of the industry’s most pressing problems – that of an ageing profile.
“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.”
Share farming differs from traditional contract farming in so far as both parties share the risk and the profits on a pre-agreed percentage. The existing farmer simply provides a proportion of his farmland for the partner to work.
Mr Robinson added: “The problem with traditional farming arrangement is that a farmer is either in or out. Share farming provides a middle ground whereby an ageing farmer, who cannot afford to retire, can start to wind-down without having to worry about paying the bills.
“A share farming agreement really is very straightforward and we have produced an easy-to-use advisory handbook that guides farmers through all the basics they need to get up and running including a template agreement.”
CLA Rural Surveyor Jacqui Stoddart, who farms with her partner in Teesdale and helped compile the handbook said: “With the limited availability of farmland, share farming offers a real hope for the thousands of talented young people desperate to get into the industry.
“It’s a very exciting project for us and we have already started working with the Federation of Young Farmers to look at ways of pairing up older farmers with younger people in their area, who are ready and willing to work.”
CLA Yorkshire branch President John Henderson, who has two share farming agreements in place on his family estate near Skipton, said: “Every single agricultural college you come across is full of talented and enthusiastic students but these bright young people have nowhere to go in this country.
“Unless we start looking at more flexible ways to harness new talent, such as share farming, then our industry runs a real risk of becoming the poor relation of European and world farming.”
Defra Secretary of State Owen Paterson said: “We have some of the best agricultural colleges in the world and an ever increasing number of young people interested in the wealth of rewarding careers in farming.
“I share the CLA’s commitment to doing all we can to help aspiring people take up jobs in the industry. Share farming gives new entrants more opportunities to start a business and build up their skills drawing from farmers with many years’ experience.”
To download a copy of the CLA’s new guide to share farming - An option for enterprising farmers – which contains several useful farmer case studies, please click here.