The Department of Agriculture needs to be brave and back young farmers, Macra president John Keane has said.

In his first speech as president after taking over from Thomas Duffy at the Macra AGM this weekend, Keane said the Department needs to ring-fence funds, schemes and policies to actively drive generational renewal in farming.

“We face many challenges over the course of the next two years. As young farmers we face environmental challenges relating to carbon, water, and habitat loss. We face challenges in relation to economic uncertainty in many sectors.

“What we need is our Government, and policymakers, to listen actively and carefully to support young farmers with active supports, and not just empty soundbites. We need a CAP that actually delivers on generation renewal.

“We need our Department of Agriculture to be brave to back our young farmers, to ring-fence funds schemes, policies that actively drive generation renewal,” he said.

Rural youth

He said the country’s rural youth already faces many challenges in terms of access to broadband, equal public services and public transport.

“What our rural youth and the youth within our organisation and the youth that make the fabric of rural Ireland need is policies that deliver for people living and working in rural Ireland. The fabric of rural Ireland is under threat,” he said.

Keane said that political representatives need to support the policies, the proposals, the endeavours of Mara’s rural youth committee and rural youth members, by delivering on access to remote working, rural transport and mental health supports.

Stick with it

Keane said Macra members have faced “enormous challenges” over the past 18 months but that members responded to those challenges.

“We have remained relevant, we have engaged our members. We have remained active, and most importantly, we have been ever-present.

“The commitment you have given as members and shown over the past 18 months will bear its fruit, as we emerge from the pandemic. To all of those who have put their shoulders to the wheel over that time, I ask you to stick with it.

“Stay going, and go back to the well just one more time to keep our organisation moving forward as we emerge,” he said.