of the service. Those are additional to partnerships set
up under normal intra-farm family arrangements. Our
priority has been to identify and support those farmers
who do not have an identifi ed successor and assist them
in making a logical progresive partnership arrangement
with a younger generation. Each arrangement takes time.
Firstly, the farmer has to decide that they want to make
a transition arrangement. That alone takes a culture
change in terms of working with someone to whom they
may not have a close personal or family link. That strong
tradition of generational change within families is diffi cult
to overcome and will not happen overnight. Nevertheless,
there is a growing willingness to consider more novel land
succession and management arrangements and to look
at the potential benefi ts for both the older and younger
farmers in working together."
The radical tendancy remains
As always, there is a radical tinge to some of Macra na
Feirme's proposals, including the potential elimination,
or at least reduction, in payments to older farmers. The
Cork based Macra President explains the rationale: "This
came through as part of our young farmer consultation
process. It has certainly stimulated debate. It does happen
elsewhere in Europe but it does not form part of our
policy development. We do recognise that those farmers
who have put a lifetime of work into their farms need to
be treated properly. The reality is that the support of that
farmer would just shift onto the younger farmer anyway.
That's why we see farm partnerships as the best option."
So where do previous innovative measures such as
Installation Aid and Early Retirement in encouraging
land transition fi t in now? "The Government is positive
towards the needs of young farmers. That has been
shown in recent tax measures supporting land mobility.
There should be opportunities in the proposed national
discretion regarding CAP payments under the next
regime to further those aspirations. I would like to see
Installation Aid reintroduced quickly. There is an option
in the Commission proposals to allow Installation Aid to
be paid up to an upper limit of 100,000. It was a hugely
successful initiative when implemented previously. What
we don't want to see is a repeat of 10 years ago when
numbers of farmers were left in limbo because of a sudden
cancellation of the scheme. A whole generation of young
farmers were caught in transition. They had made the
changes necessary to qualify for Installation Aid and were
then cut off from the necessary funding. There needs to
be continuity and dependability for it to be eff ective. In
conjunction with the Pre-retirement scheme, Installation
Aid enabled a progressive regime of farm succession to
be implemented. A new retirement scheme of some form
would be a very positive development."
The Macra network
The fact that so many of the key agri personnel both
nationally and at European levels have strong Macra
connections must be helpful to the implementation of
Macra's policy programme: "Absolutely. The Minister
Michael Creed is a former Macra member, as is
Commissioner Hogan and at least one of his cabinet,
Tom Tynan. My counterpart in IFA, Joe Healy, is a
former Macra president. He may have a somewhat
different agenda now but he clearly understands where
Macra is coming from as does Damian MacDonald, a
former chief executive of Macra. There is a realisation
that while Macra policies may be radical in ways, they
are also realistic and realisable for the good of farming.
Those individuals and many others also highlight
the importance of Macra's developmental role in
training people for leadership roles in farming, society,
business and public life."
Current Young Farmer of the Year P.J. O'Kee e with Carolyn O'Hara and
Stewart Gavin of FBD, James Healy, Macra, and IFA President Joe Healy
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