Incoming national President of Macra na Feirme, James Healy, is set to hit the ground running, as he begins his two-year term with Brexit and CAP post-2020 to the forefront of his agenda.
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.
Discussing the impact of Brexit, Healy said: “Until we see where both sides begin negotiations, we will have to wait and prepare”. He said that Macra is currently preparing a document to address Brexit and its consequences.
We want to ensure that our young farmers are equipped as best as possible for the coming times, trained to protect themselves from volatility, and educated to get the best out of all aspects that they can control inside the farm-gate.
His other immediate priorities are to help new farmers coming into the sector at this time, and to encourage young farmers to be more involved in Macra as a whole.