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Brien, Laurance Fallon and Alan Jagoe. Thomas Duffy is
fully committed to exploiting the opportunities offered
by the umbrella young farmers body: "As a collective
representative young farmers organisation, CEJA gives
us influence far beyond what would be achieved by us
as a single voice. We work to ensure that CEJA's policies
reflect the concerns and requirements of Irish young
farmers. In general European young farmers all have the
same issues around land access, establishment, finance
availability and an aging European farmer age profile."
The next CAP is critical to the successful pursuit of
Macra's agricultural agenda: "Generational renewal
is vital for us. The five-year rule needs to be changed
whereby a young farmer is cut-off from certain supports
if he/she is farming longer than that. It has resulted
in farmers in their thirties being excluded from a
young farmer payment or scheme. Young farmers
have a particular role to play in lifting environmental
sustainability and that needs to be fully recognised under
the next CAP, whenever it is enacted."
Land mobility still a key issue
Thomas puts great store in the progress being made
under it's Land Mobility Service: "It is now such a success
that other countries in the EU are trying to replicate
it. While we consider the current model to be almost
revolutionary in concept and delivery, I would be the first
to acknowledge that the aim of getting more land into
the management of young farmers has been pursued by
Macra since its foundation. We believe that even greater
progress can be made in the years ahead as more farmers
accept and welcome the shared farming models that we
are creating and promoting."
Socialising with a purpose
Macra has always had a strong social aspect. This is
needed more than ever as Thomas outlines: "The sharing
of experiences and worries in a social setting is hugely
important. Farmers can work and live in isolation. They
can be overworked, especially at particular times of the
year. The need and opportunity to go out and talk to
like-minded people should not be understated. A problem
shared is still a problem halved and that's very much
what the social elements of Macra are about as well as
providing the obvious opportunities to make new friends,
develop relationships and make life-long connections
while also developing the leadership skills that will
be so badly needed in Ireland in the years ahead. Our
skills training serves the double purpose of raising, for
instance, debating, drama and public speaking standards
among our members while at the same time providing
relaxing and positive social environments for our
members to engage with each other."
Facing the challenges
Thomas knows that the clock is already ticking. Two
years is a short time to make an impact: "I want to grow
the organisation in terms of members and the benefits
it can offer to members. That's where the focus must be
in terms of the internal workings of Macra. On a broader
scale, the next CAP will be a massive challenge for young
farmers. There are big challenges facing Irish agriculture
which we hope to influence such as trade deals, including
Mercosur. Brexit is still the unknown quantity but even
the best outcome will have negative consequences
for Ireland. Improving urban/rural connections and
understanding must be a priority at a time when fake
news and lies are being thrown at farming. Ultimately,
farmers, especially young farmers, will be centrally
involved in implementing solutions to the challenges
posed by climate change."
JULY 2019
www.irishfarmersmonthly.com
Interview
Matt O'Kee e talks to Macra na Feirme's new president, Thomas Du y about his priorities for his time
in o ce
Leading the way
"Young farmers have a
particular role to play in
lifting environmental
sustainability and that
needs to be fully recognised
under the next CAP,
whenever it is enacted."
JULY 2019
Interview
www.irishfarmersmonthly.com
17