Outgoing Macra chairman: ‘More needs to be done on farm succession’

While Macra has gone some way to address the issue of farm succession by setting up the land mobility programme, more support is needed from the minister and the EU.

These are the  views of the outgoing national chairman of Macra na Feirme Eamon Cassells.

After a busy year at national level, Eamon plans to focus on making his club – Athboy – as strong as possible before he finishes up in the organisation.

“I come from a Macra family and my dad was one of the founding members of Athboy Macra. He was very involved as a coach in the club for speaking and performing arts competitions.

My childhood memories are full of debating practices around our kitchen table so it was almost inevitable that I would join as soon as I was 17.

“That was all the way back in 2001,” said Eamon, who runs a suckler to beef enterprise.

He held various club and county roles and was on national council for six years including his year as chair. During that time he spent two years as national competitions chair and four years on the national executive.

His tenure involved getting work done on a new structure for the organisation, a new constitution, General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), child protection and other governance issues.

Regulatory compliance took time. “It’s all very unsexy and, as volunteers, you would much rather be dealing with issues that directly impact members.

Also the financial and administrative burden on an organisation like ours to comply with all these new regulations is considerable.

With that work tied down, it’s back to club matters. “I started with my club and that’s where I’ll finish. I’ll spend my last couple of years in Macra making sure it’s as strong as it can be before I finish,” he said.

“I’ll definitely have a bit more time available now so I’ll get to put a bit more time into the farm and my girlfriend Siobhan has been very patient up to now so she’ll be seeing a bit more of me.”

We are living in an increasingly urbanised world, Eamon said.

That means that less and less people have an appreciation of rural life or where their food comes from. We can see this with the rise of veganisim – which is based less on concern for animal welfare and more on the ignorance of the realities of farming.

Rural broadband is another major issue, he said. “It’s essential if we are going to keep people living and working in rural Ireland.”