“As I write this, the Macra annual conference and rally has ended. The rally was organised by a consortium of Galway and Roscommon Macra and was held in the Shearwater Hotel in Ballinasloe.

I am not going to single out people for individual thanks, as there really are too many.

The rally is the highlight of the Macra year – we see almost 2,000 members come together for a variety of events, from Stock Judging to the Tumbling Paddies, and of course, our Agricultural Conference.

We were delighted to welcome the Minister for Agriculture Charlie McConlogue to open our conference and take questions from the floor after he spoke.

The minister gave a lot of answers to the questions posed by our members – indeed, there were so many answers that some were not even in relation to the questions that were asked.

What I took away from the minister’s answers at the conference was a greater understanding, not only of the minister’s, but indeed, the Government’s position in relation generational renewal.

Generational renewal

Generational renewal is something that we in Macra have been harping on about for quite a while, and we will keep going on about it until someone listens.

The minister outlined all the different schemes and supports that are in place under the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) to support young farmers.

Macra does not dispute this. Indeed, we welcome all supports that allow young farmers to succeed and prosper – there is no argument here.

We will keep going on about it until someone listens

In relation to a question posed by our chair of ag affairs, Liam Hanrahan, about the proposed Macra succession scheme, Minister Conalogue told the attendees that, during the CAP consultations, he had visited and talked with farmers in different marts in every county in Ireland.

Supporting ‘active farmers’

During these discussions, the minister mentioned the possibility of a retirement scheme for farmers; the impression that the minister received from these interactions was that there was little or no interest in a “farm retirement scheme”, however.

He went on to say that the Government was more interested in supporting active farmers, rather than supporting people to leave active farming.

We now understand why our succession scheme did not find itself a home in Budget 2024: our scheme was being conflated with a retirement scheme.

These are two very separate things, and over the next few weeks, I intend to separate out succession and retirement. They are two separate concepts that our Government does not seem to understand.”

Elaine Houlihan

Macra national president

2023 – 2025