The two hopefuls in the Macra na Feirme presidential race have finished their representations to the people they hope will be voting for them on 4 April.
Odile Evans, current Leinster vice-president of Macra and journalist from Co Wexford, and James Healy, associate member of Macra’s national council and previously the association’s Munster vice-president from Co Cork, have debated and engaged with the membership since the beginning of March.
Those hustings are now at an end and the wait until the election on the 4 April has begun.
Speaking to the Irish Farmers Journal, Evans, 23, said she is happy overall with how the hustings went.
“I am happy that the membership got the chance to discuss many issues of importance to them,” she said.
For Evans, the shape of the CAP after 2020 is one of the most important issues facing young farmers. Macra recently carried out a consultation on CAP among its members and the final result was presented to Agriculture Commissioner Phil Hogan this week in Brussels.
Young people are worried about investing in an unstable future
“This is an issue that kept cropping up among members and it is clear we need to secure as many goals as we can from the CAP consultation we recently carried out,” she said.
“Brexit is another issue that is of huge importance because young people are worried about investing in an unstable future,” she continued. “We need to encourage proactive learning among young farmers to help them deal with volatility. And we need to be united with other farming organisations on this.”
Does Evans feel like she has done enough to garner support at this stage in the campaign?
“I’ve done a lot at this stage,” she said. “Now it’s up to the members to decide if they want a fresh face as their president, someone who is strong on agriculture and can represent them and their interests.”
James Healy, 32, told the Irish Farmers Journal that he was happy with how the hustings went.
“I am happy,” he said. “It was great to see good crowds at the hustings and great to see they have an interest in who they’ll be electing.”
For Healy, the future of the CAP was also hugely topical among members.
“Members had a strong interest in the future of the CAP, influenced no doubt by the consultations we recently carried out.”
Any issue a member has is important
For Healy himself, however, farm safety is one of the most important issues at the moment.
“We’ve only recently come out of a week where there was three farm deaths, and of course among them was a young man in his mid-20s,” he said. “That really hit home the importance of constantly promoting farm safety.”
“Of course, any issue a member has is important,” he added.
Does Healy feel like he has done enough at this stage?
“You always feel like there is more you can do,” he said. “I just hope the work I’ve done in Macra up to this point will show people that I am capable of being a strong leader and one that will direct the organisation.”