Kieran O’Dowd the newly appointed President of Macra na Feirme talks to AgriLand on how the organisation continues to fight on behalf of young farmers. 

Macra is located at the heart of the National Ploughing Championships just a few steps away from the official headquarters. The energy coming from the tent is palpable with lively music and a steady stream of people moving in and out. Once inside Macra representatives are on hand to provide more information on the organisation, promote the ‘Racing for Macra’ fundraising night and encourage new recruits.

O’Dowd tells AgriLand about what he hopes to achieve from his presidency. “I hope to leave a stronger organisation and I am also keen to ensure the findings from the land mobility study are put into action. We have just appointed Austin Finn from our Kilkenny office as land mobility programme manager. We are going to pilot three areas in the country where we will look for farmers who don’t have identified successors and then young farmers who require further access to land. From this we want to team them up together, arrangements will be collaborative such as shared farming or possibly leasing, whatever works for the two parties.”

The programme manager will be travelling the country to ensure that farmers get practical and informed knowledge on leasing, succession and ownership.

“The face-to-face element is essential; while websites and leaflets are beneficial farmers will be less likely to trust these sources. With the land mobility officers there is someone for them to direct any queries or worries a farmer may have. Really we are trying to demystify all the old concerns about leasing and land rights,” said O’Dowd.

Currently Macra is concluding it’s submissions to the Minister and Department of Agriculture on the Common Agricultural Policy.

“So far we are very happy in that CAP has guaranteed a 25 per cent top up for young farmers in the first five years that they are in the industry but we hope that it will not be too restrictively enforced. A lot of farmers who have missed out on installation aid and other packages in the past, from the likes of 2008 up until 2011 who experienced an installation aid cut. Ultimately there needs to be flexibility, if we rigidly enforce the two per cent that has been allocated for young farmer top-up then not enough farmers will avail of it,” commented O’Dowd.

In order to keep in touch with its members and remind young farmers of what they do Macra are currently visiting all six agricultural colleges, in addition they will be holding its annual conference next month in Mount Wolseley.

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Pictured Kieran O’Dowd,Macra