Israel’s Ministry of Agriculture on Thursday announced a new program intended to attract young farmers to the Golan and Galilee. The plan offers them vast areas for cultivation in addition to land in a local settlement where the young farmer will be absorbed. Both agricultural land and the land for the construction of the newcomer’s home will be provided free of charge. In addition, the ministry will subsidize up to 40% and up to a total of one million shekels ($305,000) for the cost of soil preparation and planting.
Minister of Agriculture Oded Forer (Israel Beiteinu) said on Thursday: “The Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development will support in 2022 as well the absorption of new farmers in agricultural settlements to the tune of NIS 10 million ($3.06 million) in the first phase toward building the next generation in that nation’s agricultural sector and taking care of uncultivated farms throughout the country.”
“The purpose of this outline is to increase the total agricultural land cultivated in Israel, and to attract to the industry a young, qualified, and motivated workforce, which will drive the food security of all of us, and lead to the renewal of our agriculture, where the current average age is 65,” Minister Forer said.
Since taking office, Minister Oded Forer and the CEO of the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, Naama Kaufman-Pess, have been leading a reform of the agriculture sector in Israel—whose main mission is to promote renewable and sustainable Israeli agriculture. To this end, special emphasis has been placed on initiatives aimed at injecting new blood into agriculture, including through various support schemes.
As a rule, the main requirement is that the applicants have not been active farmers in recent years; whether they have not worked in the field at all in the past, or whether they are farmers who want to return to the field after at least 7 years in which they have been away. The new outline will also provide support for the newly absorbed in agricultural settlements, with an emphasis on peripheral municipalities – to encourage the absorption of young people into rural localities, to strengthen the periphery, and to encourage the engagement in agriculture as a central feature of Jewish community life in northern Israel.
“In recent years, since the program began in 2017, we are seeing an increase in the transition to agricultural communities in the Golan,” said Minister Forer. “We’ve observed a significant increase in the Natur settlement in the southern Golan Heights, where currently, 10% of the local families participate in the support program and received the grant.”
According to Forer, so far about 300 applications have been approved for new and returning farmers in agricultural communities, of whom about 60 are new farmers.