“900 million found but not €1 for young farmers,” – that was the key message an angered Macra na Feirme conveyed at a recent CAP consultation meeting at Thurles Mart.
Its leader, John Keane, spoke on behalf of the organisation on Friday evening (October 22nd) to express concerns over the government’s lack of financial support for young farmers under the next CAP.
Earlier this week, Minister McConalogue announced funding for the CAP Strategic Plan 2023-2027 of almost €9.8bn.
The funding over the seven years, 2021-2027, represents an increase of almost 30% or €1.2 billion, compared to the 2014-2020 period.
Keane told attendees that the minister and the DAFM need to realise that not a single additional euro has been found for the next generation of young farmers through initiatives such as a:
- Retirement scheme;
- Start-up business grants;
- A funded land mobility service.
He said: “The minister is to be lauded for the additional €900m that has been secured within the context of the overall CAP budget.”
“However, not a single additional euro has been allocated for farm succession supports.”
Keane highlighted Macra has “consistently articulated” the need for a retirement scheme to support older farmers who have aspirations to retire.
This simultaneously supports a start-up business grant for the next generation, all backed up with a funded land mobility service.
Keane continued: “Generational renewal is one of the nine key objectives to be delivered in this CAP.”
“If we look at the set of proposals in front of us, launched this week, to deliver on that, the fact is about 5% of farmers in this country are under 35.”
“The status quo is what is being proposed here in terms of supporting young farmers: to maintain the supports there and hope that there is a different result.”
“If we look at Pillar 1, about 3% for young farmers. 3% is the very minimum that could be delivered. The Commission promised 3% in the discussions during the summer. Our government has chosen not to increase that; it equates to €35m over seven years.”
Furthermore, he told the minister that young people need to be provided with a future in rural Ireland.
Also, he said the supports the minister announced this week would not deliver for young people to welcome them into the farming sector.
“If we look at Pillar II, which is being lauded through the week, an additional €900m. Not one additional euro is going to go to young farmers.”
“We found €1b and could not give one euro extra than what we gave to young farmers in the last CAP. That is what is going to deliver on generational renewal.”
“The message from this government to young farmers is clear: the future is in reduction, not production. The future for these people behind me is in reduction; not producing the best quality food in the world.”
Concluding, Keane said: “Minister, this evening, I brought you a present. I brought you a €1 coin, which is a gift from the young farmers in Macra to you, to show that the young farmers are willing to give more to you than you are going to give them in the €1bn that you found this week.”
He proceeded to the mart rostrum to hand the coin to the minister, to which he responded, “thanks, John”.
Before the CAP meeting drew to a close, Keane called on Minister McConalogue to deliver for farmers. “We are solely reliant on you, as farmers, to deliver for agriculture. Nobody else in this government is going to deliver for agriculture. You need to deliver for us.”