As the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine prepares to submit Ireland’s Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) strategic plan (CSP) to the European Commission by the end of the year, Macra na Feirme (Macra) is, once again, calling for greater supports for young farmers.

Macra said it is urging the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Charlie McConalogue, to put concrete proposals on the table that address the key barriers that exist for young farmers: access to land; access to finance; and start-up support.

“The question must be asked, is the minister really serious about addressing the challenge of generational renewal,” said Macra national president, John Keane.

The EU Commission has identified areas in which member states can implement interventions that directly support young farmers and more importantly address the barriers identified by young people namely access to finance, access to land and start-up support.

“We have seen nothing in the context of the CSP that directly addresses these issues. A fund to support advisors to provide advice to young farmers about accessing finance is not providing access to finance for young farmers,” he said.

Macra has raised these issues consistently and has yet to see action, the president said.

Speaking to the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Agriculture, Food and the Marine in early December, Macra identified the solutions that are proven in other member states: on-farm succession scheme providing for older and younger farmers; a financial instrument specifically for young farmers; and start-up business support.

“The number of young active farmers in 2027 will be the litmus test for Minister McConalogue and this CAP. We need to see what the minister and the DAFM have identified as that target,” he said.