6-year plan: Is this the future of Irish farming?

Macra na Feirme has today launched its new Strategic Plan for 2017-2023.

Titled ‘Rurally Active, Engaging and Transforming’, the plan outlines a vision for the organisation that will ensure it adapts to a changing rural Ireland to ensure that Macra na Feirme – more commonly known as ‘Macra’ – can serve the needs of Ireland’s rural youth “better than ever before”.

According to the young farmers’ group, the strategic plan will allow Macra na Feirme to focus on improvement under three key themes:
  • Rurally Active;
  • Engaging;
  • Transforming.

Rurally Active

This focuses on the continued significance placed on rural Ireland. By focusing on this theme within the strategic plan, the organisation holds the ambition to increase its membership and bring Macra na Feirme’s young farmer advocacy and youth work programmes in drama, public speaking and sports to a wider audience of young farmers and rural young people.


Macra’s ambition over the life of this strategic plan is to upskill more of its members to have deeper engagements with various community participation fora. This will be done through the group’s own community involvement programme and through giving its members the skills to participate through other opportunities such as Public Participation Networks.

According to the association, Macra is also engaged with sponsors, government departments and supporters. During the life of this strategic plan, a focus on greater engagement and outreach is planned.

The organisation recognises the financial constraints within which it operates, and part of that outreach and broader engagement is to secure new and diverse funding sources to support the Macra na Feirme mission.


Macra members widely report the transformative effect that Macra membership has had on them. Youth work programmes within Macra will continue to have capacity building and personal development at the core during the life of this plan, according to the group.

Transforming also reflects the impact of governance, regulatory compliance and legal structures which are impacting upon all non-profit organisations across the youth sector – and again Macra is not exempt from these.

This strategic plan charts a course for the implementation of the Governance Code for non-profit organisations, along with many other strategic goals, objectives and actions which will have a positive and transformative effect on the structure of the organisation.

Macra strategic plan
Macra na Feirme national president James Healy

Speaking at the launch, Macra na Feirme national president James Healy said: “Ireland and the challenges facing our young people are continually changing, but this plan shows that our members are keen to adapt and to meet them head on.

As we approach Macra na Feirme’s 75th anniversary, this strategic plan is a vital step towards ensuring that our organisation continues to be an important voice of all young farmers and rural youth.

Macra na Feirme chief executive Denis Duggan also spoke, noting: ‘‘In January 2017, Macra na Feirme embarked upon a series of consultation workshops with members led by our strategic planning consultants, Ciaran Lynch from Community Engagement Partners and Pat Bogue from Broadmore Research.

“There was also broad consultation with a significant amount of past and present members, staff, sponsors, funding departments and other external stakeholders. This strategic plan is a result of all that work and I would like to thank everyone who contributed to this publication,” Duggan added.

The feedback and input from all these stakeholders has helped Macra na Feirme to shape it’s vision for rural Ireland and for the organisation itself for the next six years.

What is the mission of Macra na Feirme?

“The mission of Macra na Feirme is to contribute to the sustainable development of rural communities in Ireland by supporting the social, economic, cultural, personal development and well-being of young people who have a rural connection – including young farmers – by representing their interests in the development and implementation of relevant policies, programs and services at national, regional and local levels and by advocating on their behalf.”

The group’s strategic planning process aims to have brought “clarity” to the vision for Macra na Feirme – a member-led organisation which is recognised by young people, decision-makers and society in general as a key resource for rural young people, including young farmers, and as their “authentic voice”.

Macra na Feirme’s vision for rural Ireland is to have rural and agricultural communities which are active and vibrant socially, economically and culturally – in which young people, including young farmers, play an active and recognised role and which are attractive and nurturing places in which to live and work.

Macra as an organisation

Macra na Feirme is the representaitve organisation for Ireland’s young farmers and rural young people aged between 17 and 35-years-old.

The organisation is a registered charity that represents and supports the growth and personal development of its members through six thematic areas of activity: agriculture; public speaking; sports; travel; performing arts; and community.

Currently there are 9,000 members affiliated with almost 200 clubs all over the country. Macra clubs are organised into 31 county/regional executives nationwide – Cork is divided into five regions, while, Tipperary is divided into two regions.