Praise from the top in EU for Macra
European Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development Phil Hogan has praised Macra na Feirme, not least for the positive impact it had on his own life.
As the keynote speaker at the Macra National Conference at LIT, Thurles, Commissioner Hogan praised Macra’s ability to influence European agricultural policy. He referenced their flagship initiatives on land mobility and collaborative farming arrangements.
He acknowledged Macra’s tireless commitment in promoting the importance of young farmers at local, national and European levels, and said that Macra members throughout the country can influence agricultural policy at European level.
“I told you about some of the Commission’s priorities back as far as 2015, Macra responded exceptionally well and became part of policy proposals of the Common Agricultural Policy.
“So it just shows you, whether you are in Three Castles Macra na Feirme, you’re in the Sundun region, or you’re in Moyne-templetuohy, you can have an impact as a member of Macra na Feirme on European pol- icies, today I want to acknowledge that very much in terms of your policy papers.” He thanked Macra for its “unwavering support” for a strong and well-funded CAP, and for making sure that the “generational renewal” issues are kept centre stage at European level.
C o m m i ss i o n e r H o g a n spoke warmly about the positive impact Macra na Feirme had on his own life. Being a member of Macra taught him many lessons in life, including “how to stand up, put up and shut up, how to organise and to advocate, and how to stand up for the issues we believe in, and I am certainly always very proud of my days in Macra na Feirme” Hogan, in his role as European Commissioner for Agriculture, intends on putting generational renewal front and centre and acknowledged that young farmers need “special help” in the form of financial support to allow them to deal with risks and weather conditions that they encounter. The Macra National Conference is estimated to generate €250,000 for the local economy, and it will be hosted by Avondhu Macra next year (see #Rally2019 #letsavondhuit). The 54th Queen of the Land Festival will be hosted by Offaly Macra this weekend in the Bridge House Hotel, Tullamore, Co Offaly.
This year the festival sees the introduction of a forum on women in business as part of the Friday night line-up. According to festival chair Gerard Mahon, this offers the contestants an opportunity to meet with women who have proven their abilities to lead in business and to develop successful careers.
This year’s festival includes representatives from England and Northern Ireland. Laura Bull, a nurse, from Beeston Young Farmers Club represents England. Lynne Montgomery, a veterinary nurse, from the City of Derry Young Farmers Club, represents Northern Ireland. Lynne expressed her delight at being selected to participate: “It’s a great honour to represent Northern Ireland at this year’s Queen of the Land. I’m also representing my club, c o u n t y a n d t h e Yo u n g Farmers Clubs of Ulster (YFCU) as a whole. I’m so glad I was asked to do this, it is a real privilege and I’m so excited to meet all the girls. It’s going to be a great weekend.” Gerard Mahon said the international element to Queen of the Land is “hugely important”.
“It has been the culmi- nation of many years of work in developing relationships. Particularly at a time where we face Brexit, it’s important for us to maintain international relationships and in particular with our UK and NI counterparts and this festival plays a pivotal role in that” Macra president James Healy, speaking at the National Conference, emphasised the importance of maintaining positive relationships with young farmers groups in the UK.
“It’s very important as you saw today we had Lyndsey Martin from NFYFC, we also have representatives from young farmers groups from Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland this weekend.
“It’s a great opportunity for us to share experiences. There is a lot of discussion around Brexit.
“I think under normal circumstances there’s a lot of other issues you would discuss, but Brexit has become such a topic of discussion at the moment that it’s hard to get beyond it.
“When we talk about those macro factors that are impacting upon us, but obviously discussing issues that our sister organisations have in common whether it’s accessing young farmer incentives there is always something we can learn from each other and I think it’s very positive that the five young farmer groups on these islands are so interactive and do try and work so much in common.”
Laura Bull, left, represents England, and Lynne Montgomery represents Northern Ireland, in this weekend’s 54th Queen of the Land Festival.
European Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development Phil Hogan with Macra President James Healy at the Macra National Agricultural Conference sponsored by Massey Ferguson in LIT Thurles.