Our figure of the month 02/2019: Young farm managers wanted! Where the succession questions are most urgent

The structural change in agriculture is aggravated by the lack of succession. With approx. two out of three farms the question of succession was not yet regulated, so that in the meantime portals like www.hofsuchtbauer.de offer mediation support. The question looked at is in which regions this problem is most urgent, i.e. where do we find many old farm owners and in which regions within Germany have younger ones already taken over more often?

A glance at the distribution of the age structure of farm managers by federal state in the latest agricultural structure survey dated from the year 2016 [1] provides information on this issue.

Across Germany, most farm managers in agriculture are aged between 45 and 55 years (36%). The cohort of 55- to 64-year-olds also accounts for more than 30 %. Currently, 8.3% of farm managers are older than 65. In contrast, only 6.9% fall into the group of 25- to 34-year-olds. The cohort of farm owners aged between 35 and 44 years holds a share of 17.4%.

The largest share of younger farm managers amongst all federal states can be found in Bavaria with the age group between 25 and 34 years holding a share of 8.0 % and the age group of 35 to 44 year old farm managers amounts to 19.8 %. If one takes only the youngest age group into account, Thuringia and Saarland are even ahead of Bavaria.

Comparatively few managers in the age group of under 35 year olds can be found in Lower Saxony, where this cohort represents only 5.1%. Rhineland-Palatinate, North Rhine-Westphalia, Hesse and Schleswig-Holstein also have a below-average proportion of young farm managers aged 25 to 34.

Since there are more younger farm managers in Bavaria, the proportion of older farm managers is consequently below average (55–64 years: 30.1% and over 65 years: 6.6% (average all over Germany: 31.5% and 8.3% respectively)). The situation is different in the federal state of Rhineland-Palatinate, where the proportion of younger farm managers is not only relatively low, but the proportion of farm managers aged over 65 is also the highest at 13.1%, whereas the group of 55 to 64-year-olds also has an above-average share of around 33%. A similar situation can be found in Saxony-Anhalt.

The high average age of farm managers in agriculture becomes more obvious when comparing the age structure to the one of all employees subject to social insurance contributions (SVB) in the German economy in total. While the age groups of 35–44 and 45–54 year olds differ by only 6 and 5 percentage points respectively, there is a strong difference among 25–34 year olds (i.e. 18 percentage points less with farmers vs. all SVBs). At the same time, the proportion of over-55-year-olds among farm managers is 19 percentage points higher than amongst all SVBs in Germany.

So in Bavaria, where around one third of all farm managers of Germany in total are to be found, the rejuvenation process amongst farm managers is already on a good track, whereas succession issues are particularly urgent in the federal states of Rhineland-Palatinate and Saxony-Anhalt.

However, a look across national borders shows that the proportion of farm managers aged 65 and over in agriculture in the EU in total is still significantly higher than in Germany: most recently, it amounted to around 30%.

Other figures can be found here.

[1]  Farm managers under the age of 25 in Germany account for only a very small share of 0.6% of all farm managers in agriculture. At the level of the federal states, in some cases no values are reported for this size class, which is why this analysis concentrates on farm managers aged 25 years and over.

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