Macra na Feirme has written to Minister for Agriculture Charlie McConalogue urging him to support the call for 4% of direct payments to be used for generational renewal.

The letter forms part of the campaign co-ordinated by the federation of young farmers CEJA, with multiple EU young farmer organisations.

The call comes in advance of the next meeting of the EU Agriculture and Fisheries Council on 22 March, where CAP reform will be discussed.

Addressing crisis

Macra national president Thomas Duffy has raised concerns that the European Commission’s focus on aligning the CAP with the Farm to Fork strategy has meant the emphasis under the previous Commission on generational renewal has diminished.

The current CAP reform proposals for post-2023, prepared under the previous agricultural commission, lays out generational renewal as a specific objective members states must consider in preparing their plans.

“We’ve seen a lack of support on generational renewal in the Farm to Fork strategy, with only a single mention of young farmers,” Duffy said.

“This is simply not good enough and the attention must return to the priorities laid out in the CAP proposals. Specifically of addressing the age crisis in farming by securing 4% of direct payments for young farmer supports.”

Young farmer fall

Macra has pointed out that the numbers applying for the Young Farmers Scheme has fallen in 2020 by 1,985 applicants, resulting in €6m less going to young farmers.

“The Rural Development Programme is currently being amended for submission to the Commission for the next two years.

“The ambition is to align it with the next CAP. If that is the case, then generational renewal must be addressed,” Duffy said.

Macra has repeated its call to the Minister that those under the age of 40 but farming longer than five years be supported under TAMS to address this shortfall.