Young farmers want to be part of the solution to reducing agriculture’s carbon emissions and the policy landscape needs to deliver to ensure they can meet that challenge, according to Macra na Feirme president John Keane.
Keane said Irish young farmers are “among the most educated across the world” and see climate action as an opportunity to develop and drive sustainable food production systems that deliver the very best in agriculture.
The Macra president made his comments in a passionate address to members at the organisation’s national conference on Friday: Climate, the Conundrum. Young Farmers - Up for the Challenge!
On agriculture’s role in reducing emissions, Keane said: “We have an opportunity to get it right. We have an opportunity in the context of the upcoming Common Agricultural Policy (CAP).
“We have an opportunity in terms of our climate action plan to ensure that there is a viable future for young farmers and for farming in general into the decades ahead.”
He called for Government to offer an opportunity for young people to prosper within the sector.
Keane highlighted how “science will deliver a pathway forward for farming”.
The Tipperary farmer said science and research has shown “that there are mitigation strategies, as well as techniques that can deliver reduced environmental impact from farming” while also showing “the opportunity for diversification within farming systems”.
He said there is strong interest from young farmers in renewable energies and branching into anaerobic digestion while also improving their ongoing farm enterprises in livestock, tillage and other farm sectors.
Keane called for a policy landscape which supports and acknowledges young farmers who he said are “already responding to the challenges in relation to climate change”.
He described the work to be done on encouraging young farmers to invest in and find a career within the sector, stating that the decline in the number of farmers below the age of 35 over the last decade is concerning.
He called for Minister for Agriculture Charlie McConalogue to implement policies which support farm succession and enable young farmers to get a footing within the sector.
Keane spoke ahead of Minister McConalogue who described this “positive engagement” from Macra as the basis behind his decision to double the Department’s investment in the Land Mobility Service to €100,000 in 2022.
Keane was joined by a number of agricultural experts at the event on Friday, including European Council of Young Farmers (CEJA) president Diana Lenzi from Italy.