Time is right for Odile’s Macra bid


Bray People - - NEWS -

ODILE EVANS owes a lot to Macra na Feirme. At the age of just 23, she says it has given her many im­por­tant life skills which have brought her to where she is to­day.

On Fri­day night, Odile for­mally launched her elec­tion cam­paign and over the next two months or so, will be con­test­ing the up­com­ing elec­tion for na­tional pres­i­dent of Macra na Feirme.

Hav­ing joined the or­gan­i­sa­tion for young farm­ers straight out of school, Odile soon found her­self given a job on the com­mit­tee and she was hooked.

‘I grew up on a dairy farm South of Ark­low and from a very young age I was in­ter­est­ing in the farm and the work­ings of it. At 17 I joined Macra and be­came club sec­re­tary within a month,’ Odile ex­plains.

That year, Odile’s guild, John­stown-Cool­gre­any, was named na­tional Club of the Year, which was a great achieve­ment for a young club just es­tab­lished in 2006.

‘It was great for the club and for the mem­bers, as all of the of­fi­cers were quite young as well, maybe 17 and. My neigh­bour Sarah Mer­ri­gan en­cour­aged me to join at the start and was on the com­mit­tee then and is not the County Chair­per­son for Macra.’

Odile, a jour­nal­ist with the Ir­ish Farm­ers Jour­nal by day, ex­plains that she was ‘al­ways an am­bi­tious per­son’ and puts all her en­ergy in when she has a goal in sight.

‘I stud­ied agri­cul­ture in UCD and grad­u­ated with first-class hon­ours and did my se­mes­ter abroad. From there I went into my cur­rent job as a jour­nal­ist. I al­ways knew my life was go­ing to be in agri­cul­ture but I didn’t know ex­actly what area,’ Odile says.

She cred­its Macra with giv­ing her the chance to grow as a per­son and ac­quire many im­por­tant life skills.

‘Tak­ing on club role meant that I got a lot of train­ing in dif­fer­ent ar­eas. I en­tered a lot of com­pe­ti­tions, from sports, farm skills and de­bat­ing. They put you out­side you com­fort zone and help to im­prove your con­fi­dence. You can have a role listed on your CV but when you get into any in­ter­view, it will show, that you have that ex­pe­ri­ence. Macra mem­bers are that lit­tle bit more per­son­ally de­vel­oped and able for the stresses and strains that might be thrown at them.’

The place of Macra in small com­mu­ni­ties, can­not be over­stated, ei­ther.

‘It is a re­ally good ru­ral or­gan­i­sa­tion, which is open to men and women aged 17 to 35. There is a lot of com­mu­nity in­volve­ment and Macra groups join in var­i­ous events, for ex­am­ple en­ter­ing a float in the St Pa­trick’s Day pa­rade, which John­stown Cool­gre­any does ev­ery year. Just get­ting out and meet­ing up with oth­ers once a week can do won­ders for your men­tal health and it can help re­lieve the de­mand­ing na­ture of farm­ing work.’

For Odile, im­prov­ing con­di­tions and agreements for Ir­ish farm­ers is a pri­or­ity and run­ning for na­tional pres­i­dent is a step to­wards this.

If elected, she will be the sec­ond woman ever to hold the two year term and she says that she be­lieves the time if right for that now. ‘I DON’T see youth as a bar­rier and al­ready, in Macra half of our na­tional coun­cil is fe­male. How­ever, the time is right for a bit of colour in the or­gan­i­sa­tion and I feel it would be a pos­i­tive thing for young women to see a woman as na­tional pres­i­dent. I’m here and I’m ready now, so why hang around for the sake of it?’

The role is full time, and if elected, Odile would have to take a break from jour­nal­ism.

‘There are many is­sues that are of con­cern to farm­ers to­day, and par­tic­u­larly young farm­ers and that is what I will be fo­cus­ing on. Farm in­comes are quite low at the mo­ment and many young farm­ers have dif­fi­culty with ac­cess to land and credit. These are two key is­sues and with­out these, it is very hard for a young per­son start­ing out to see a very sta­ble fu­ture. I would be seek­ing to push that agenda if elected,’ Odile says.

‘The pres­i­dent is also tasked with build­ing new re­la­tion­ships and main­tain­ing old ones. I am in the unique po­si­tion that I know a lot of the gov­ern­ment min­is­ters through my job so that is an as­set.’

Since her launch, Odile says that she has been stunned by the sup­port she has re­ceived.

‘I re­ally have been blown away and I am de­lighted to see the mo­men­tum be­hind the cam­paign. I am bowled over by all the sup­port and I am very grate­ful to those who are sup­port­ing me and to my fam­ily.’

Odile will on the hus­tings through­out Fe­bru­ary and March where she will hope to cover a lot of ground as club to club can­vass­ing is not per­mit­ted.

‘It is one vote per club so they will have to de­cide which can­di­date they pre­fer and then the bal­lot is on April 4,’ Odile says.

Un­til then, she will be do­ing her ut­most to reach as many mem­bers as pos­si­ble in the hope of get­ting elected, a chal­lenge it seems she is more than ready for.

Odile Evans with her par­ents Albert and Ann and brother Jano.

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