Young farmers to get crisis fund top-up

Agriculture Minister Simon Coveney announced at the annual young farmers conference of Macra on Friday last weekend how EU dairy and pigmeat crisis funds will be distributed to Irish farmers.

He said he is anxious to get the payments out before the end of the year, and revealed all dairy farmers will get a flat rate share of the fund, regardless of scale — which will positively discriminate in favour of smaller farmers in terms of payments.

But young dairy farmers will get a special top-up.

As for the pig farmers’ share of the crisis fund, he said he will talk to the industry to find out if they want it as a cash payment or in a more strategic form such as a marketing fund.

He said there is no decision yet on whether the government will top-up the €13.7 million EU crisis fund; he is negotiating with the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform on this.

He said he hopes to progress setting up of beef producers groups before the next Dáil election.

The Minister urged young farmers not to put up with the old attitude to farm safety.

Along with Commissioner Hogan and Minister Coveney, the Macra conference attracted Minister of State for Primary Care, Mental Health and Disability, Kathleen Lynch, and South constituency MEP Seán Kelly.

Former Macra president Alan Jago, who now leads the European Young Farmers Organisation, CEJA, also attended.

Minister Coveney said very few of the representative organisations he deals with have as strategic a thought process as Macra, and he complemented them for their solution based and positive approach, and very smart lobbying.

He predicted that the current 5-6% of Irish farmers aged under 35 will dramatically increase, and he looked forward to the new generation combining scientific advances with the best of farming traditions, to tackle new issues such as climate change and preserving biodiversity.

Macra president Sean Finan said it is a great time to be a young farmer, with growing demand for food, milk quota abolition, and a CAP with mandatory young farmer measures for the first time.

He called on Agriculture Minister Simon Coveney and conference guest speaker European Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development Phil Hogan for sufficient resources in agriculture education, better access to credit for young farmers, and a dairy income volatility bond.

Over the weekend, the success of Macra’s Land Mobility Brokerage Service was widely acknowledged. Sean Finan said it now has more than 350 clients on its books, and has put in place 140 arrangements for land use such as long leases, partnerships, or share farming.


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