Macra: What’s in it for young modern-day farmers?

“It would be my aim that, at the end of my term, any serious young farmer should be a member of Macra,” president-elect of Macra na Feirme Thomas Duffy told members.

Speaking at the latest presidential and vice presidential election hustings last night (Wednesday, March 20), the incoming president of the farming and rural youth organisation outlined what exactly Macra brings to the table for young Irish farmers in today’s world.

Speaking to AgriLand after the hustings, Duffy – a dairy farmer who works in partnership with his parents in Co. Cavan – explained why young farmers should consider membership.

Discussions

“The best asset of the organisation is the fact that you are meeting with other young farmers – you’re coming up with creative ideas; you’re having discussions in a discussion group format which are not overly formal.

“You might get to make great friends through that and you have people you can rely on in times of stress or hardship. There’s a fantastic community of young people there.

And particularly, as agriculture becomes more difficult and at peak times, that support network is essential.

“Especially at this time of year, I cannot imagine not having the support of my fellow young farmers who know the exact challenges I’m going through that I can ring up and talk to,” Duffy said.

The president-elect also highlighted initiatives run by Macra such as its land mobility service, describing it as “a great initiative for any young farmer, through the hard work of Macra”.

Lobbying

Duffy – who the current national chairman for the association – said that he believes the organisation also needs to be recognised more for its role in lobbying on an agricultural front, alluding to a point he made on the floor that Macra is the third largest lobbying group in the country, after the Irish Farmers’ Association (IFA) and Ibec.

“We’re incredibly hard-working in terms of young farmers but also on all agricultural matters. Our budget proposals; we’re in with the minister fighting on that.

So, if young farmers want to get their voices heard we’re the organisation to go through to do that.

“And then, on top of that, we have our training network, our Skillsnet network which provides a huge range of potential skills both for farmers farming in their own right and also for people going on to be employees and managers of farms that need those essential skills – which are probably not being provided for through the main stream.”

European connections

Duffy underlined the “absolutely vast amount” of lobbying that is done, both directly and through the European young farmers’ organisation CEJA.

“We’ve met directly with the commissioner, we’ve met directly with MEPs on numerous visits. We only recently brought the entire agricultural committee over and met with numerous MEPs to represent on our position.

Also, we lobby through CEJA which is a great amplifying voice – and we see that in the effect that Macra had and the work that Macra did getting the 25% top-up. That was Macra and CEJA’s work primarily.

“We’ve fought very, very hard for that because obviously there’s a very tight budget but we are seeing the benefit to young farmers on the ground. That has been a huge game-changer for them.”

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