The proposed suckler beef brand will create value for suckler farmers, but won’t create enough value to keep suckler farming viable, 54% of young farmers in Macra na Feirme believe.

The Macra Young Farmer and Rural Youth Survey 2020 found that of the 134 young farmers and those working in agriculture surveyed, 17% said the brand would create value for farmers, while 29% said it wouldn’t.

Some 70% of the farmers surveyed said they supported the grass-fed standard for beef.

On dairying, 78% of all young farmers cited concerns about the impact of bull calves from the dairy herd, with 63% of farmers saying that dairy farmers will find it increasingly difficult to sell bull calves.

A further 59% agreed or agreed strongly that dairy calves would likely have a negative impact on beef price. However, the majority of young farmers were optimistic about the potential development of dairy calf-to-beef systems, with 58% agreeing that this was a viable option for drystock farms.

Eighty-one per cent of young farmers said knowledge of a herd’s TB status would influence their purchasing choices.


Access to land, access to credit and succession planning remain the three biggest issues facing young farmers.

Banks’ unwillingness to lend remains the largest issue with 33% of those who sought credit citing this as a problem, while 26% of young farmers said lack of collateral was an issue.

Some 28% said they had sufficient access to credit. However, this was enterprise-dependent, with dairy farmers more likely to secure credit.


Despite being identified as drivers of expansion, the majority of young farmers stated their intention to reduce nitrogen fertiliser.

Overall, 67% aimed to reduce fertiliser use but maintain production levels which rose to nearly three-quarters (74%) of young dairy farmers aiming to achieve this goal. The survey found that young dairy farmers are significantly more likely to be using or planning to use protected urea at 85% with 42% of young beef farmers using or planning to use protected urea. Some 75% of young farmers said they have maintained or plan to maintain hedgerows on their farms, while 38% said they would plant a small area of trees.

Illegal substances, online and vegans

Out of 134 young farmers surveyed, 20% said they have used an illegal substance before, with 46% saying someone they know well has used an illegal substance. Some 25% said they had never used an illegal substance.

Some 69% said they feel comfortable when posting about agriculture online and 23% said they had been targeted negatively or received negative feedback online.

When asked if they would follow a vegan lifestyle for a year if they were paid €1m, 37% said they would take up the vegan lifestyle and 63% said they wouldn’t.


Young farmers were asked a range of questions about COVID-19:

Will COVID-19 have an impact on your farm business or business you work for?

  • 30% : positive impact (more homecooking, local purchasing etc).
  • 48%: negative impact (less spending power, impact of marts).
  • 22%: no impact.
  • Some 50% of young farmers said spending more time with family has been a positive impact of the pandemic and 29% said they had a greater work-life balance. Over 85% said they were using texts or WhatsApp to stay in contact with friends and family, 67% said they were using phone calls and 51% said they were using video calls.