The Macra leader was speaking at the conclusion of the European Young Farmers conference hosted in Dublin by Macra na Feirme in association with CEJA, the European young farmer group.
The two groups have also produced their joint ‘Dublin Declaration’, a charter in which they outline proposals for other necessary supports for young farmers.
Alan Jagoe said: “The inclusion of a mandatory Young Farmer Top-Up alongside an installation Aid package with 80:20 co-financing ratio under rural development is of paramount importance. Achieving these objectives within this CAP reform is essential for the future of food production in Europe.”
The conference was also addressed by European Agriculture Commissioner Dacian Ciolos and Agriculture Minister Simon Coveney. Both said there was widespread support for an extra €1,000 per year grant to farmers aged under 40 to help them establish their farms.
Mr Jagoe said: “If they don’t support the next generation of Irish farmers, the work that my parents and the generations before them have done will all go in vain, because the young farmers simply won’t be there to farm the land.”
Macra points out that there are just 7.5% of farmers in the EU under 35 and that figure is the same here in Ireland. But there are also as many farmers over 80 as there are under 35.
“We welcome the inclusion in proposals for a mandatory top-up for young farmers which is the first time in the history of the CAP that the problem has been acknowledged,” said Mr Jagoe. “We are urging that the Council of Ministers now back these proposals as the European Parliament and Commission have already done.”
The theme of the conference was ‘RDP — Delivering for Young Agri-Entrepreneurs 2014-2020’ and was attended by more than 90 young farmers from 26 CEJA member countries.
The conference was also addressed by Mairead McGuinness MEP, and Francis Jacobs, head of office, European Parliament.
Recommendations were presented to shape supports for young agri entrepreneurs as part of the CAP/Rural Development Programme 2014-2020. The ‘Dublin Declaration’ is being finalised and will be circulated in coming weeks.