Co-op boards 'not open and welcoming' to the next generation of farmers

Macra na Feirme president Thomas Duffy. Photo: Gerry Mooney
Macra na Feirme president Thomas Duffy. Photo: Gerry Mooney
Claire Fox

Claire Fox

Boardroom politics and 'a wait your turn young fella' attitude are some of the reasons young people cited for putting them off getting involved in co-operative boards, according to a new report.

The Attitudes of Young Farmers to Agricultural Co-operatives report which was commissioned by the Farm Relief Service (FRS) found that 34pc of young farmers believed that co-op boards were not 'open and welcoming' to young people becoming involved.

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Reasons documented by young farmers for finding co-op board meetings included: too much local politics and highly educated young farmers not being listened to.

Delays in the transfer of co-op shares was another issue highlighted by young farmers.

The main factor identified by respondents for the delay in the transfer of shares to younger farmers was that the value of shares provided a financial security to the older generation.

Just over 14pc of respondents stated that it was due to a fear of potential family arguments resulting from the transfer of shares that was causing a delay in transfer.

Macra na Feirme president Thomas Duffy stated that in order to keep rejuvenating co-ops young people must feel valued and allowed to be proactive in the co-op.

"If a young person leaves the meeting not feeling valued, you won't have just lost them for the next meeting you will have lost them for a lifetime and they will tell their other farmer friends of their experience. The culture of the co-ops has to be challenged," said Mr Duffy.

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Another recent survey from ICOS reported that just 2pc of co-op directors are women and the low number of young people on boards could impact co-ops' futures.

Co-op boards 'not open and welcoming' to the next generation of farmers

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