‘Macra millennials’ set to drive the organisation forward

Macra na Feirme is targeting the so-called ‘millennial generation’ as the organisation aims to boost membership nationwide over the next six years.

Today Macra na Feirme launched its ‘Strategic Plan 2017-2023’ – a document focused on the organisaiton’s commitment to be ‘Rurally Active, Engaging and Transforming‘ in the years ahead.

The unique plan, developed in consultation with members, staff, past members, sponsors, funding departments and other partners, will guide Macra’s vision to play a key role in the sustainable development of rural communities across the country.

The organisation, which currently boasts 9,000 members in almost 200 clubs nationwide, hopes to achieve this by supporting the social, economic, cultural and personal development and well-being of young people who have a rural connection

The document also sets out 11 strategic goals for the organisation aimed at fulfilling its mission, achieving its vision, capitalising on strengths and opportunities as well as guarding against risks and weaknesses.

The Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Michael Creed, also addressed the event where he reminisced on his own Macra experiences at his local club in Macroom, Co. Cork.

James Healy, Macra’s national president, said the urbanisation of rural youth poses a significant challenge to the future of the organisation.

“Our members are almost 95% from a rural background, they have a connection with rural Ireland and they want to see that continued.

For Macra to survive, we need young people in our rural communities to join our clubs. As more of our young people move to towns and cities, we need to have clubs starting up in those areas.

“We have the ambition to increase membership and to develop the organisation into what they need it to be. This is youth work and what we do actually changes lives, but that transformation also needs to happen within the organisation,” he said.

He added that the organisation is hoping to attract more “tech savvy millennials” – a term Healy uses to describe today’s modern young farmers.

“Obviously young people are changing; the culture has changed over the last couple of years; smart phones, social media, online agri-news are very important to young rural and farming people

We must adapt our strategies for connecting to new members and take into account that they are getting all their information online; that’s where the young people are and they are the people we want to attract.

While rural youth tend not to fit into the stereotypical view of the millennial, they are no different. When it comes to technology, young farmers are doing the very same things.

“For a long time rural young people might have seen themselves as being less sophisticated than their urban cousins, that is something farmers might have fallen to as well, but they are equally as modern and professional as urban millennials,” he said.