Macra weekend to mix fun with serious debates

It’s Macra na Feirme annual conference (rally) weekend, a time for the usually carefree members to really let their hair down!
Macra weekend to mix fun with serious debates

Setting the tone for the rally theme, organising committee chair Eric Driver said, “We are currently in unknown territory with the CAP programme, and it is imperative that the young farmers of today and tomorrow make their voice heard and ensure the CAP is directed to the active farmer.”

Eric Driver, the chair of the annual conference organising committee, and Carlow Macra National Council rep, tells us about Carlow Macra’s plans for the weekend.

* What would young farmers like to hear from Agriculture Minister Simon Coveney when he officially opens the rally tomorrow evening?

>>“We are hoping to hear a clear message from the minister about his intention to support young farmers in the CAP programme under Pillar II funding. The need for well structured Installation Aid Business Start Up package is evident. The current CAP programme has not supported young farmers or generational renewal and the results of this are very clear from the farmer age profile. The minister has to see the reward for supporting young farmers as they will immediately pump the money back into the exchequer.”

* What are the topics for Saturday’s rally conference speakers Mairead McGuinness, MEP; Michael Brady, president of the Agricultural Consultants Association; and Alan Renwick, UCD?

>>“The theme of the conference is ‘New CAP, New Era’. We are moving into a new CAP programme and, as young farmers, we need to insure it is built correctly to secure our future, as let us not forget this CAP programme is about insuring food and food security for the people of Europe. As the farmers of today and tomorrow, we will always meet the standards necessary but the CAP programme also needs to be directed at the active farmer. We look forward to our speakers input on this theme as they are very much on the pulse of the new CAP program role out.”

* How many members will be involved in the All-Ireland finals of the Macra competitions this weekend — the Irish Farmers Journal Know Your Ag quiz; the AIB Club of the Year and Best New Member competitions; and the Bord Bia Beef and Sheep stockjudging competition?

>>“As ever, we have had huge interest in the All-Ireland finals of our competitions taking place at the annual conference. 170 members will take part in competitions listed over the weekend with more than 1,000 expected to attend the AIB Club of the Year and Best New Member competition as spectators.”

* Describe the dairy host farms (Fortgranite, and the farm of John and Caroline Kelly, Baltinglass).

>>“Fortgranite Farms is a business which has evolved into a partnership with both the farm manager and owner of Fortgranite farm, Partnerships are not for everyone but this dairy partnership is a flagship of what can be achieved by teaming together and building a strong unit. John and Caroline Kelly are new entrants to dairying and they commenced milking in January of this year. They have adapted part of their drystock and tillage farm to include the dairy industry and for me the highlight of this is the management decision they made on the farm structures and the way they have adopted them to the dairy enterprise.”

* The beef and sheep farms being visited are Kehoes’ at Williamstown, Rathvilly and the Byrnes at Bunclody. What should visitors look out for?

>>“The young farmers should listen attentively to these farmers as they run their farm as a business, with a very keen eye to farm profit and return for labour. Both families understand the importance of CAP and work to best enhance it on their farms. They watch the inputs and outputs and are not afraid to point out their faults and what they did on the farm to address same.

The tillage walks will be hosted by Brophy Agri Services and Kevin Nolan, Grange.”

* What will be the hot discussion topics?

>>“The hot topics here we believe will be grain prices and market volatility. We have seen grain prices rise and fall by major figures in recent years, Leaving the industry very unstable especially as we face into a new CAP, con acre prices and returns from the land are major gambles and security around same needs to be addressed. We also see by-products of this industry being discussed especially straw and its diverse markets now.”

* The Teagasc national HQ at Oakpark, will also be visited. What’s the most interesting feature there?

>>“Oakpark plays a major role in the development of agriculture in Ireland. We are grateful to Teagasc for opening their doors to us.”

* The Rally requires a lot of hard organisational work and is only made possible by sponsorship. Who gets the credit?

>>“We are most grateful to both Dawn Meats and Ulster Bank, our main sponsors, for their financial giving and input in support of the annual conference. It would also be remiss of me not to mention all the local sponsors who continue to support Carlow Macra in all that we do. Beat 102-103 are also our media partners and supporting our efforts to promote the event.”

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