‘Macra is the unofficial dating agency of rural Ireland’

Newly-elected Macra na Feirme President James Healy from Donoughmore in Co. Cork told Patricia Messinger on C103’s Cork Today radio show that Macra is the unofficial dating agency of rural Ireland saying: “Who needs Tinder when you can join Macra!”

Healy was speaking to his local radio station C103, following his election but did outline concerns for the future of Macra and the younger population in rural Ireland.

With more and more people moving to urban areas, major towns and cities, he said, rural decline is continuing to happen. He said that it is one of the biggest challenges facing farming and rural communities.

Speaking about the three-month election campaign, he said: “It was tiring but thoroughly enjoyable”.

He explained that each Macra na Feirme club had a collective vote and that 164 clubs were eligible to vote on this occasion. He went on to say that Macra has in the region of 9,000 members at present, most of whom are younger people (17-35 years of age) but with a good geographical spread across the whole country.

Listen back to what James Healy had to say below:

Meanwhile, speaking to Agriland earlier this week, Healy said that the beginning of his term would be focused on continuing the work undertaken during recent months on Macra na Feirme’s CAP 2020 Policy Paper – with a focus on securing as much as possible for young Irish farmers in Europe.

When asked about the recent poll, which showed that 58% of Macra members surveyed believed that direct payments post-2020 should be production-based rather than area-based, Healy said: “While I understand this view, it is not the Commission’s policy and we must take everything into account. We must support vulnerable sectors in our industry.”

He believes that the proposal for ‘economic viability area payments’ to active farmers would be the right step for all.

Regarding Macra’s proposal, Healy pointed to the need to implement young farmer measures; the document proposes the allocation of 10% of the overall budget for such measures. This would be used to educate and help young farmers, training them to “farm smarter, rather than bigger for the sake of being bigger” as well as optimising resources and modernising – to be more competitive.