After a couple of sparse years in 2009 and 2011, the industry revived in 2012 with 400 new youngsters coming into the sector, an increase of 12%.
Indeed, Normandy is only beaten by neighbouring Brittany, the Loire and Midi Pyrenees in terms of new growth in agriculture.
But the Normandy Chamber of Agriculture is warning that there may not be enough farms to cope with the renewed interest among young people. The number of new entrants is currently five times the number of farms available in the region.
â€˜Competition for land between the town and the country and increasing farm sizes make it difficult for young people to find land to farm. It is essential the potential sellers think well ahead and consider selling to young people,â€™ said Jean-Louis Belloche, president of the Normandy Chamber of Agriculture.
New milk quota rules and rising grain and beef prices have encouraged more young people to seek a future in the industry, according to the chamberâ€™s latest annual report. Dairy is the most popular sector among new recruits and record numbers are being seen in Manche which has the biggest number of dairy farms.
Beef cattle, large scale crop farming, equestrian activities and then landscape gardening are the next most popular farming activities. But while the number of activities is diversifying, the majority of new farmers come from farming families. The average age of a young farmer is 28 and more than ever have an agricultural diploma, either a BAC or BTS.
The report also shows that Normandy is still a region dominated by dairy but activities vary on a regional basis. The most dairy herds are to be found in Manche and to a lesser extent in Orne and Seine-Maritime. Crops are the dominant type of agriculture in the Eure with 45% of farms producing arable crops and cereals. Calvados has the most varied number of farms.
Organic vegetable farming is proving popular in Manche and Calvados with 42 new producers setting up in Normandy in the last five years of which 11 were in Calvados and 12 in Manche. Converting to organic status takes an average of two years and financial help is available during this period.