MEP Mairead McGuinness welcomed a delegation from Macra na Feirme, led by national president Seán Finan to the European Parliament in Brussels last week.

The delegation attended the third annual EPP Group Young Farmers Congress.

The EPP Group promotes and supports young farmers, as they represent the future of agriculture in the EU.

The congress, organised by MEPs Nuno Melo and Esther Herranz in co-operation with the Portuguese Farmers Confederation and the Young Farmers Organisation of Spain, offered an opportunity for more than 200 farmers, from 17 member states, to share their experiences, knowledge, and best practice.

“Without young farmers, agriculture has no future and without a strong agricultural sector, the European project will collapse,” Mr Melo told the congress.

Mr Melo. who is from Portugal, pointed out the consequences of the systematic reduction in the number of farmers and young farmers.

“We cannot compromise the EU’s food autonomy, the rational use of land, the environmental preservation of territories nor the jobs and wealth that agriculture generates in our common space,” he said.

“In the European Parliament, the EPP Group wants to be part of the solution.”

Ms Herranz added: “This congress is important to acknowledge and celebrate the vital work that young European farmers are doing for agriculture, not only for today but also for the future, given the ageing trend that the rural population is suffering.”

Louth Macra representative Jonathan Marry, last year’s FBD Young Farmer of the Year, presented his project to the gathering.

He outlined the background of his pig farming business near Slane, Co Meath, and his decision to take the “farm to fork” route.

He also spoke about how he farms in Newgrange — a Unesco world heritage site known around the world for its monolithic tombs.

He plans to develop a duck pond to add to the environmental sustainability and economic stability of the farm.

Ms McGuinness said: “It is great to see young men and women talk about their farming experience first-hand and I want to thank Macra and the delegation — and in particular Jonathan — for taking part in this important occasion.

“It is always easier to stay at home, but it takes courage and commitment to share experiences and concerns with farmers from other member states, in the hope that through this process we can learn from each other and forge solutions to difficult problems.”


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