Macra na Feirme calls on co-op boards to include young people

MACRA na Feirme has called on the boards of all co-op societies to review their structure in terms of including young people.

Catherine Buckley, president, urged the co-ops to set targets of a minimum of two members aged under 35, by 2010.

She said the future of young farmers and the agricultural industry would be jeopardised if co-ops failed to address the age structure of their boards of management.

“Young farmers have very different priorities to older farmers and co-op societies must incorporate youth into the decision- making process,” she said.

Ms Buckley said the results of a recent survey by Macra indicated 94% of young farmers believed they did not have enough representation on the boards of Irish co-ops.

“This is a worrying statistic as young farmers need to be encouraged to become involved in the decision-making process of their sectors. They would bring a diverse and different skill set and attitude to the boards of co-ops,” she said.

She called on the Irish Co-operative Organisation Society to help the co-ops develop the necessary measures to ensure young farmers were involved in management structures.

Macra is also urging young farmers to take out a pension plan.

Ms Buckley said it was vital that young people in farming think ahead and start a pension now, as farmers currently had a strong reliance on state pensions after retirement.

She stressed young farmers should start investing in pensions at an early age to avoid being forced to make big contributions in later life.

David Malone, head of information services at the Pensions Board, said the board and Macra shared a concern about the low level of pension coverage among young people in rural communities.

“The latest Central Statistics Office data shows an increase in pension coverage among those working in agriculture, but it is still one of the lowest pension coverage sectors in the country,” he said.

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