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Catherina Cunnane
Catherina Cunnane
Catherina Cunnane hails from a sixth-generation drystock and specialised pedigree suckler enterprise in Co. Mayo. She currently holds the positions of editor and general manager at That's Farming, having joined the firm during its start-up phase in 2015.
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‘I am 44, and I would say I am the fourth youngest farmer in my parish’

A senator has warned that there will be a “significant backlash” if there is a proposal to move away from the active farmers’ definition.

Senator Tim Lombard of Fine Gaél made the statement whilst addressing the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Agriculture yesterday (Wednesday, April 14th), 2021.

Active farmers 

He said the big issue for the farming community is “how we can take everyone along this road”.

“How we define the active farmer will probably be the decisive statement in this proposal and ensuring that the active farmer on the ground is sustainable into the future. That will be a major issue for the farming organisations and for farming communities.”

“All of us involved in the farming industry know there is a cohort of farmers who are, in many ways, armchair farmers living off CAP payments continuously. Some of us have been renting entitlements from such individuals for many years.”

He believes addressing the issue of retired farmers in their 70s, 80s and 90s claiming single farm payments back through land leasing will be one of the critical factors in determining how Ireland can make progress and manage the whole system.

“There will be significant pain for everyone. That is probably the thorniest issue we will deal with,” the senator warned.


He stressed that convergence is “probably” another issue.

“In my part of the world in Cork, people say convergence means taking the money from the south and east and moving it to the north and west.

“That is effectively what is proposed as part of convergence. It would have a huge knock-on effect for economic farming and farming that involves supplying to co-operatives and other societies that keep our food industry going.”

“It is a sustainability issue for farming. That main issue will be that of how we can have a sustainable farming sector. The payments received from Europe ensure that it is sustainable.”

Young farmers

Furthermore, he said that the demographic trends are evident. He believes “young people are going out of farming for quality of life and financial reasons”.

Besides, he questioned how Ireland can ensure, if there is convergence, there will be sustainable farming in the areas in question and that young people will get involved in the farming community.

“I am 44 now, and I would say I am the fourth youngest farmer in my parish. That is a poor reflection on what would be a really good farming part of the world. It is because of what is happening in society itself.”

“If we were to move large numbers of entitlements, what would be the knock-on effect for the relevant areas? What would be the major knock-on effect for the agriculture industry and the island’s food dynamic?” he concluded.

You can read more from this discussion from the ICSA here and IFA here.

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