Farm Ireland
Independent.ie

Saturday 29 April 2017

'The reality is that there are going to be huge changes': New Macra President gets to work

James Healy, President elect of Macra na Feirme,with supporters following yesterday's election count at the Irish Farm Centre.
James Healy, President elect of Macra na Feirme,with supporters following yesterday's election count at the Irish Farm Centre.
Claire Mc Cormack

Claire Mc Cormack

It's just over a week since James Healy was named 36th president of Macra na Feirme but he is already feeling the weight of the title on his shoulders.

Shortly after the Corkman was announced winner, by 91 votes to challenger Odile Evan's 60 votes, Mr Healy returned to his home club at Donoughmore Macra for some well deserved celebrations.

However, when a past Macra member from the area, now in his 80s, came up to shake his hand the reality of the job and responsibility ahead started to sink in.

"Celebrating at home gave me an opportunity to thank everybody for their help in the campaign but the rest of the week was spent with the start of the handover to a degree," he said.

Although the official inauguration ceremony will occur at the Macra na Feirme national AGM in Drumshanbo, Co Leitrim, on May 6, Mr Healy is already being brought up to speed on burning issues for the rural youth organisation.

"I've been having meetings with the current president Sean Finan and CEO Denis Duggan on issues they are handling at the moment, where we are, and how we are looking at them going forward.

"We're getting the foundation in place so I'm not starting cold at the agm that I'm fully up to speed and can drive on. We're aiming for as seamless a transition between myself and Sean as possible," he said.

Mr Healy, 31 who works in manufacturing, is also fully aware that he will take the reins at a very uncertain and transitional time for Irish agriculture in terms of Brexit and upcoming CAP reform.

However, he also believes the period will provide an opportunity for Macra to shine.

"There is a huge responsibility that now lies with me as president to ensure that the organisation runs to the best of it's ability.

"The reality is that there are going to be huge changes between when I start my presidency and when it finishes and while there will be a lot of talking, a lot of crucial decisions about the future of farming will be made too," he said voicing his intentions to put together a Macra na Feirme policy on Brexit and major priorities for young farmers.

"Now is the time for Macra to show that it is the organisation it has always been and that we can truly put our mark on the happenings of the next two years," he said.

Boosting membership will also be a key focus to Mr Healy's tenure.

"Each county has unique strengths to encouraging new members, whether it's farming, social or competitions and my aim is to ensure each county has a plan," he said.

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