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Addressing 'age crisis' in farming has fallen off EU agenda - warn young farmers

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Macra na Feirme president Thomas Duffy

Macra na Feirme president Thomas Duffy

Macra na Feirme president Thomas Duffy

Support and encouragement for young farmers has fallen down the list of EU priorities, Macra na Feirme has warned.

It has written to Minister Charlie McConalogue urging him to act on supporting young farmers in the upcoming meeting of Agriculture and Fisheries Council.

The letter forms part of the campaign coordinated by the federation of young farmers CEJA, with multiple EU Young Farmer Organisations.

The campaign involves urging the respective national ministers to support the call for 4pc of direct payments to be used for generational renewal.

Macra na Feirme’s National President Thomas Duffy has raised concerns that the Commission’s focus on aligning the CAP with the ‘Farm to Fork’ strategy has meant the emphasis under the previous Commission on generational renewal has diminished.

The current CAP reform proposals for post 2023, prepared under the previous Agricultural Commission, lays out generational renewal as a specific objective members states must consider in preparing their plans.

“We’ve seen a lack of support on generational renewal in the ‘Farm to Fork’ strategy with only a single mention of young farmers. This is simply not good enough and the attention must return to the priorities laid out in the CAP proposals. Specifically of addressing the age crisis in farming by securing 4% of direct payments for young farmer supports,” stated President Duffy.

At National level, Macra na Feirme has pointed out that the percentage of funds directed at young farmers is dropping and likely to continue for the next two years of the transitionary period between Common Agricultural Programmes (2021-2023). The numbers applying for Young Farmers Scheme has fallen in 2020 by 1,985 applicants resulting in €6 million less going to young farmers.

“The Rural Development Programme is currently being amended for submission to the Commission for the next two year, the ambition is to align it with the next CAP, if that is the case then generational renewal must be addressed,” President Duffy said.

Macra na Feirme has repeated it’s call to the Minister that those under the age of 40 but farming longer than five years be supported under TAMS to address this shortfall.

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