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JULY 2019
Leading the way
main livestock industry is grass based and yields a range
of benefits in protecting biodiversity, for instance. Saying
that we are best in class doesn't mean we can't get even
better. We must constantly strive to improve on our
standards. Our farm-by-farm carbon assessments are
unique globally and we can make further improvements
to benefit not only our customers but our own farm
sustainability. Using less resources to produce more is a
win-win for us."
Trending on social media
Like most young people, Thomas monitors social media
trends and notes the amount of interest in Irish dairy
produce in the US: "Overwhelmingly, what American
consumers are saying is that the quality, texture and
taste of Irish butter is miles ahead of anything they could
compare it to in their own country. The willingness of
consumers to select Irish product above cheaper rivals is
something we must continuously build on."
Making the most of Macra's European influence
Macra's re-engagement in recent years in CEJA, the
European Young Farmers Association, is acknowledged
as having conferred significant influence for Macra in
shaping European agricultural policy for young farmers.
Former presidents of CEJA have included Seumas O'
JULY 2019
Thomas Duffy describes the transition to being
president of Macra na Feirme as `massive'. Less
than two months in the two-year post, Thomas has
already made a very positive impression with his in-
depth knowledge of agriculture and environmental
issues as well as his ability to articulate his views
clearly and concisely. In his address at a gathering in
Aras An Uachtarain last month for a 75th celebration
of the founding of the organisation, Thomas laid out
Macra's policy of inclusivity as an essential aspect
of its role as a rural youth representative body. In
pursuance of that policy Macra, for the first time,
this year participated in the annual Pride March in
The case for Irish agriculture
Thomas took the traditional route to the Macra
presidency, serving as an officer in his club, Ramor,
at county executive level in Cavan and, latterly, on
Macra's National Council and Executive, ultimately
serving as National Chairman. His academic
background in environmental studies including a
Masters in Environmental Resource Management
should be useful, to say the least, in advocating for
Irish agriculture over the coming period: "My thesis
on Cattle Breeding for Adaption to Climate Change
does help me in arguing the case for the Irish cattle
herd in our unique, grass-based production system.
One of the key findings for me was the fact that
everything we can do to improve the environment
as farmers is positive from a profit viewpoint.
Low emissions slurry spreading, planned fertiliser
application, the use of protected urea, all reduce
costs and add to the bottom line."
The Cavan-based dairy farmer is adamant that our
Irish food production system is amongst the best in
the world: "The reality is that Ireland is, if not the
very best, up there in the top ten percent and all
of the evidence I have seen points consistently to
the fact that in terms of carbon sequestration and
carbon use efficiency we are in first place in Europe
for dairy, in fourth for beef and very high up the
carbon efficiency scale for pork, poultry, horticulture
and tillage, facts that are not always realised. Our