Macra reveals demands for next government

The majority of farm organisations have now revealed their positions on the key agricultural issues for General Election 2020, with Macra na Feirme becoming the latest to do so.

Addressing a range of topics, a Macra election document is calling for any future government to ensure that Ireland’s contribution to the EU’s budget is increased in order to support the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP).

Spending on young farmers should be increased above 10% of total CAP payments, according to Macra.

The document also calls for a National Reserve ‘refilling mechanism’ as part of CAP transitional arrangements, and the removal of the ‘five-year rule’ for young farmer measures.

On the issue of access to land, Macra is calling for: long-term leasing reliefs to continue; state-aid ceilings for young farmers to be raised; a “properly devised” retirement scheme; and balancing forestry targets with access for young farmers.

In terms of credit, the farm organisation is looking for low-interest loans to be aimed at young farmers, and for livestock to be considered collateral for lending. Macra is also arguing that any financial instruments should be additional to young farmer supports.

Macra believes that the following steps are necessary to “secure family farms”: supporting partnerships and other forms of collaborative farming within families; and taxation policies that favour the family farming model.

On the issues of generational renewal, succession and inheritance, Macra makes the following points:

  • Taxation measures must aid in removing the financial burden on those retiring;
  • The CAP must include financial supports for older farmers who are financially insecure;
  • The extension of all existing agri-taxation reliefs to support the orderly transfer of farms.

With regard to health and safety, the organisation is calling for free access to independent safety assessments.

The introduction of legislation and a regulator to protect the primary producer in the food supply chain is also on Macra’s list of demands, as is a “fair margin” on prices.

On the environment, Macra is calling for the following:

  • Support for farmers in adopting modern technologies and practices to reduce on-farm emissions;
  • Sufficient access to these types of products and equipment;
  • A “results-based” environmental scheme open to all farms, which pays for carbon reduction measures;
  • No cut to herd sizes.

Finally, on continuous professional development, the organisation is asking for the establishment of a framework to record and accredit upskilling and continuous training.