‘Farmers don’t retire’: Re-evaluating how we engage with and understand the ‘Older’ farmer’s perspective

Conway, Shane Francis
Farrell, Maura B.
McDonagh, John
Kinsella, Anne
Conway, S. F., Farrell, M., McDonagh, J., & Kinsella, A. (2022). ‘Farmers Don’t Retire’: Re-Evaluating How We Engage with and Understand the ‘Older’ Farmer’s Perspective. Sustainability, 14(5), 2533.
Globally, policy aimed at stimulating generational renewal in agriculture is reported to pay meagre regard to the mental health and wellbeing of an older farmer, overlooking their identity and social circles, which are inextricably intertwined with their occupation and farm. This paper, in probing this contentious issue, casts its net across what could be deemed as disparate literatures, namely connected to transferring the family farm and social gerontology, in order to determine what steps could be taken to reassure older farmers that their sense of purpose and legitimate social connectedness within the farming community will not be jeopardised upon handing over the farm business to the next generation. A number of practical `farmer-sensitive¿ actions that can be taken at both policy and societal level are subsequently set forth in this paper to help ease the fear and anxiety associated with `stepping aside¿ and retirement from farming amongst older farmers. A particular focus is placed on social and emotional wellbeing benefits of being a member of a social group reflecting farmer-relevant values and aspirations in later life. The potential of the multi-actor EIP-AGRI initiative and the long-established livestock mart sector in facilitating the successful rollout of a social organisation designed to fit the specific needs and interests of the older generation of the farming community is then outlined. In performing this, the paper begins a broad international conversation on the potential of transforming farming into an age-friendly sector of society, in line with the World Health Organization¿s (WHO) age-friendly environments concept.
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Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0)