It is now proposed to change the definition of ‘active farmer’ from a person spending at least 50% of their time farming to ‘farming on a commercial basis’.
Mr O’Dowd, said: “This is a sensible and positive development. There are many young farmers who are also working off farm with the intention of building up their farm enterprise over time.
“This is a legitimate farm enterprise and should not be discriminated against”.
Meanwhile, young farmers interested in getting involved in the co-operative business should consider signing up for the co-operative leadership programme.
Macra, in conjunction with the Irish Co-operative Organisation Society, has developed a training programme for young farmers to introduce them to the cooperative decision making process.
The course takes place on Tuesday December 2, Wednesday December 3, and Tuesday December 16 in the Horse and Jockey, Thurles, and on Monday, December 15, at Teagasc Moorpark.
The course is supported by SkillsNET. The ICOS Skillnet is a network of member co-operatives nationwide.
Members use the network to avail of grant-assisted training and networking opportunities for their owners, managers, and staff.
In keeping with the current focus of Skillnets, ICOS Skillnet also offers free training places to jobseekers who are training with those in employment.
The network’s long-term strategy is to continue in supporting the co-op and agri-business sectors in meeting training and development needs.
The course is limited to 14 participants and the total cost, including accommodation and meals, is €150. Those interested must be a member of Macra and a shareholder (self or parents) in a co-operative under the ICOS umbrella.
For more information, or to secure a place, contact Edmond on 01 4268900 or email email@example.com