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I joined Macra Na Feirme in 1975, becoming a member
of St Dominic's branch in South County Roscommon. I
had just begun a career as a full-time farmer on a mixed
cattle and sheep farm. I thoroughly enjoyed developing
the farm but farming is a solitary life so joining Macra na
Feirme gave me a wonderful social outlet.
The next 14 years saw my involvement with Macra Na
Feirme continue to grow and develop, culminating in my
election as National President in May 1989. My election
was somewhat unusual in that I was the first elected
president from Connaught and also, as a drystock farmer,
I was succeeding at least six presidents from dairy farming
backgrounds. One other notable di erence of my election
was my opposition candidate James O'Callaghan was
campaigning as a non-farmer, which was unusal then,
though commonplace today.
Macra Na Feirme has many priorities and issues at any one
time and it was no di erent during my presidency. Issues
of importance to me were the personal development of
all our members and improving communications between
National Council and grassroot members. To improve
dialogue between members ans national o cers I made
it a priority to meet and discuss Macra's priorities with as
many county executives and branches as possible.
The young farmer issues at the time included higher
funding for Agricultural College education and the
exclusion of trained young farmers from acquiring milk
quotas. We had significant success in the doubling of
Agricultural College grant aid per student and we were
also successful in the concession of trained young farmers
being allocated individual milk quotas to develop start-
up dairy enterprises. I also led Macra Na Feirme in the
negotiations on the Programme for Economic and Social
Progress, through which important progress was made on
issues such as early retirement and Capital Acquisitions Tax.
On completion of my term as president I was elected Vice
President of CEJA, (European Council of Young Farmers)
with responsibility for the European Exchange programme.
A significant achievement in this position was a huge
increase in EU funding for young farmer exchange
programmes, which I negotiated with the EU Commission.
This funding allowed a massive increase in the number
of young Irish Farmers availing of exchange programs.
Two years later, in 1993, I was elected President of CEJA,
the second Irishman ever to hold the position. My two
years as President were busy trying to improve options for
young farmers of Europe. Issues such as Succession and
Establishment were the priorities with success in opening
a dialogue with DG Agri. in how to improve succession in
agriculture. Negotiation and communication skills acquired
through Macra Na Feirme still serve me well as a member
of Roscommon County Council.
Laurence Fallon
Macra Na Feirme President 1989 1991
Vice President CEJA 1991 1993
President CEJA 1993 1995
Senior Debating Winners
Macra from Cork are pictured with
Macra President Laurence Fallon and
Liam Sta ord of sponsors IFI.