'Land mobility is crucial for young farmers' - former Macra president is back on farm

Sean Finan
Sean Finan

Ken Whelan

Sean Finan, the former Macra president is back on the family farm in Foxborough near Castlerea in Roscommon where they raise weanling heifers on a 12-month rotation for the local marts in Roscommon and Elphin.

"We have been realising good prices at the marts over the past year and we will see if they remain at the same level when we begin to sell our spring stock at the local marts in a few weeks time," says Sean.

He farms with his parents Padraig and Mary along with his brother Brian and for someone working in the waterlogged fields of the west of Ireland he is happy to report that the farm has plenty of fodder.

"It's a challenging situation fodder-wise in parts of Roscommon and Leitrim but we have enough to keep us going until May," says Sean.

"We have a heavy soil and we are constantly improving the grass quality and soil with a view to extending the working season. The weather is always a factor to consider in this area."

The UCG civil engineering graduate, who added the Green Cert to his qualifications in 2008, has just completed a hectic two years as President of Macra during which time the young farmers' rural organisation completed its strategic plan for the next seven years.

He's now beginning a new term of office with Macra's European equivalent, CEJA.

The 34-year-old estimates he travelled over 100,000 miles throughout Ireland during his stint with Macra and he expects to clock up the air miles going to and from Brussels over the next few years on CEJA business.

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He sees "generational renewal" as one of the main problems facing Irish and European agriculture and he wants the issue to be dealt with when the negotiations for the next CAP agreement are finalised.

"The future of young farmers, especially in relation to land mobility, is crucial to the future of agriculture throughout Europe and has to be addressed in the new CAP," he says.

Sean is also worried about the lack of engagement from his fellow young European colleagues about Brexit and its potential effects on agriculture throughout the EU.

Like everyone else in Irish agriculture, he favours a soft Brexit whenever the deal between Britain and the EU is completed, but he says his CEJA colleagues are not overly animated by the pending British-EU deal.

"They are not looking at their markets and how Brexit will affect farmers in their countries in the same way as the Irish are. These negotiations will have an effect across the EU in terms of all types of livestock exports and food product exports generally," he says.

Sean's off-farm interests vary from golf to reading though he admits they have both been neglected for some time, especially the golf.

"I'd like to play more golf but I just haven't the time and what reading I do mostly involves Irish and European reports on agricultural matters."

The golf may have to take a back seat for a while longer as this "leaving in the dark and returning in the dark" farmer is also considering a return to civil engineering over the next few years.

Indo Farming

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