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I am the oldest surviving Macra president at this stage.
My term was sandwiched in between two very di erent
personalities, Limerick's Michael Noonan and Tipperary's
Joe Rea.
Michael went on to become a Minister for Defence in a
Fianna Fail government while Joe had a variety of careers
including farmer, IFA president, chairman of Teagasc and
journalist. Because I had the opportunity to serve as both
national chairman and president of Macra, I was able to
experience, and sometimes influence, the training and
educational role of Macra as well as its development of
agricultural policies for young farmers. I had joined the
organisation 13 years earlier and it greatly influenced
my farming and other facets of my life as a farmer
representative in various roles up to almost the present
day. After the formation of the IFA, when the age profile
of its membership dropped, Macra allowed young farmers
to have a representative voice independent of the older
generation. That role evolved during the mid-1960's.
Up until then, Macra's remit was mainly in terms of
providing education and training across farming and
personal development. Summer Gatherings and Field Days
as well as the development by branches and counties
of Winter Programmes, were major elements of Macra's
activities. Debating and public speaking training were
particularly important in the personal development of
members, though we might not have used that phrase at
the time. We were very involved in the establishment of
Telefis Feirme, an agriculture-based television programme,
presented by the late Justin Keating, who went on to be
a government minister. That programme was ground-
breaking in its day. The anticipation of entering the then
Common Market spurred Macra to support and lobby for
membership. When that happened in 1973 Macra was
committed to embracing membership and the benefits it
could deliver to the farming community. The organisation
went on the play a major role in the development of young
farmer policies in the EEC, through its membership of
CEJA, the European Young Farmers representative body
and it still has a major influence there today.
Macra, in my view remains a very important organisation.
To me, it is absolutely necessary that Macra retains its role
in representing young farmers and its agricultural ethos in
general. That gives it a unique role in Irish agriculture both
at home and in Europe. I am very impressed at the success
of the current Macra policy on land mobility. The progress
it has made in the past few years is very impressive. As a
member of the FBD Trust, which sponsors Macra's Land
Mobility Service, I am greatly heartened by how well our
financial support is being used. This is another initiative in
what has been a core Macra aspiration to get land into the
hands of young progressive farmers that has been going
on since my time as president back in the 1960s. We have
to ask where Irish agriculture would be without Macra. It
was centrally involved in founding the Farm Apprenticeship
Board, IFA, IFAC, FRS and the Irish Farmers Journal.
Many of those initiatives would never have happened
without Macra and certainly would not be as successful in
supporting the farming community and being commercial
entities at the same time.
Hugh Ryan
Macra President 1965-1967
Picture of a past President's dinner at the Tipperay show in the mid
s, (back row l-r): Flor Riordan, Cork
); Kieran Curtin, Limerick (
); Seamus Hayes, Tipperary (
); Declan Martin, Cork (
Richard Kennedy, Limerick (
); Joe Rea, Tipperary (
); Hugh Ryan, Laois (
) and Michael J.
Noonan, Limerick (
). (Front row l-r): Padraig Walshe, Laois (
); Laurence Fallon, Roscommon
); Matt O'Kee e, Kilkenny (
); Willie Gleeson, Wexford (
); Tommy Sheehan, Cork (
and Seamus O'Brien, Carlow (
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1. Improved EBI
and extending the
grazing season
2. Substituting
clover for
3. Changing to
protected urea
4. Reducing
5. Improved energy
ef ciency and
renewable energy
6. Incorporating
forestry and
on farm
7. Using the
ASSAP advisors
to help improve
water quality
7 Steps to
Improving Farm Sustainability
Irish agriculture has a global reputation for high environmental standards. However,
these standards continue to become more stringent.
Early action is key to meeting the challenges of reducing
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and improving biodiversity.
Farmers can improve, both their
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