Macra na Feirme has become the latest farm organisation to respond to the announcement of funding for the 2023-2027 Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) and, like the other organisations, the reaction has been lukewarm.

Macra said that it is questioning the level of funding announced for CAP. The young farmers’ association argues that the funding is missing €310 million for young farmer supports.

Macra president John Keane said: “We have consistently voiced the need to support young farmers as they begin their farming careers.

“The funds announced are missing a start-up business grant scheme for young farmers; a retirement scheme; and funding for a land mobility service. The cost of providing these valuable incentives to support generational change and encourage new farmers to start farming is approximately €310 million over the next five years.

“Young farmers are real environmentalists. The current generation and indeed the next generation of young farmers are more educated, informed and knowledgeable on best environmental practices,” Keane argued.

He added: “As young farmers, we are custodians of the local environment. Making farming attractive, and encouraging more young people into the industry through generational renewal initiatives like retirement schemes and a land mobility service are good for our natural environment, climate change and biodiversity.”

According to the Macra president, encouraging young people to take up farming as a career choice is “vital” for the agriculture sector.

“Let’s be clear, young farmers are not climate deniers. We understand the challenge ahead. Yesterday young farmers needed the Taoiseach and Minister for Agriculture [Charlie McConalogue] to be bold, ambitious and supportive of the next generation.

“Instead we have a budget that is short-changing the next generation by €310 million,” Keane claimed.

He welcomed the funds allocated for environmental measures. However, the Macra president stressed: “Without young farmers entering the industry with supports like start-up business grants, there is a real risk that there will not be enough young farmers to avail of these positive agri-environmental schemes.”