New Macra president Seán Finan has called on Ann Phelan, the minister for rural economic development and rural transport, to fully implement the Commission for Rural Development of Economic Area (CEDRA) report and invest in rural Ireland.

Mr Finan was making his inaugural speech at Macra’s national AGM last weekend in Galway’s Loughrea Hotel.

Adressing representatives from some 31 counties and regions, the 35th president said: “We have witnessed the decimation of rural Ireland in recent years with the closure of post offices and Garda stations.

“I call on the Government to invest in rural Ireland to ensure sustainable communities can be built up where people can live and work. I am calling on Minister Phelan to implement fully the Commission for Rural Development of Economic Area report.”

The report envisions that rural Ireland “will become a dynamic, adaptable, and outward looking multi-sectoral economy supporting vibrant, resilient, and diverse communities experiencing a high quality of life with an energised relationship between rural and urban Ireland which will contribute to its sustainability for the benefit of society as a whole”.

Elected on April 7, Mr Finan is a 31-year-old farmer and project manager with John Sisk & Son, from Ballinlough, Castlere,a Co Roscommon.

He has a Green Certificate in Agriculture and a degree in civil engineering. Seán farms with his father and brothers at Foxborough, Ballinlough, where they run a drystock cattle enterprise.

In his speech, Mr Finan also addressed Macra’s plans for informal training for young farmers with the support of Skillnets.

“Our founding fathers’ vision for Macra na Feirme was to help young farmers improve their skills and provides informal education.

“I see a need to provide practical courses to young farmers which will increase their knowledge base and enhance their businesses.

“Recently, Macra was approved for Skillnets funding which means we will be able to roll out a suite of training courses to young farmers in our young farmer development groups to help them improve their farm businesses and encourage young farmers to run efficient operations.”

He also recognised the important role Teagasc plays and called for their support and urged the Agriculture Minister, Simon Coveney, to “prioritise the adequate resourcing of Teagasc to ensure agricultural education standards are maintained and enhanced so that young farmers are equipped with the skills and knowledge to deliver on the targets which will be set out in the Agri Strategy 2025”.

He also called on the minister to fund the National Reserve. “The Young Farmer Top up and National Reserve, which Macra lobbied hard for, are very welcome elements as part of the new CAP. We have seen the success of the National Reserve scheme this year with a huge number of applications.

“It is a very important mechanism for young farmers and new entrants to get access to a payment. I’m calling on the minister to come up with a funding mechanism for the National Reserve over the next few years.”

He also addressed the need for a schools programme on farm safeyy.

“Education at a young age remains the key to tackling farm safety. We have seen the rollout by the RSA of a primary schools programme for the promotion of road safety and a green flag programme for promotion of environmental awareness.”


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