Just three percent of UK farmers (sole holders) are younger than 35, while nearly 60% are 55 or older. These figures, from UK environment department DEFRA, go back to 2007: for the 27 EU member states, the aggregate is 8% under 35 and 25% over 55.
For years now, European agriculture has been losing young people from the land to towns and cities. Across many rural areas of the EU the population has aged as well as dwindled, but this process has gone largely unnoticed by mainstream media. This is why an article in the BBC news magazine section of its website about people still farming in their 70s and 80s makes such a welcome change.
BBC journalist Steve McKenzie talked to the Welsh brothers and sister, aged between 74 and 89, who farm 147 hectares between them; the crofter on Skye who had to come back down from the hill to fetch his dentures because he could not whistle for his dog without them; the former commando who returned to crofting alongside the ruins of iron age homesteads in Gleann Beag. These are all the priceless stories of people who rise at six every morning and wouldn’t change farming for any other life.
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