In a speech at Leinster House outlining the future of Macra na Feirme, president James Healy pointed to the need for the organisation to draw from outside their traditional rural base.
Healy highlighted the increasing diversification of the Irish population and the importance of appearing welcoming to all sections of society.
“There’s more than just economically sustainable, there’s socially sustainable as well.
“95% of our membership is from a farming background … but we must work on diversifying the membership of the organisation.”
Healy launched the Macra na Feirme Strategic Plan 2017-2023 which has three core aims:
Speaking to the Irish Farmers Journal Healy highlighted the importance of retaining young people in rural communities: “Employment is absolutely key to their communities because what we see is that they have to go to urban areas for college and then they get their first job and then there’s no reason for them to come home.
“So what’s absolutely vital is that the opportunity for them to go home is there, because if they have the opportunity they will go home.
“It’s about fighting for things like rural broadband, infrastructure and employment opportunities that are going to keep young people in their local communities.”