Big demand abroad for capable farmers


THERE IS huge demand abroad for able people who can run farms, young farmers were told at the Macra na Feirme conference in Waterford on Saturday.

International farmer Jim McCarthy said the opportunities were mouth-watering for “able people with a brain” who could run farms. “There are really good prospects and there are so many exciting places to farm.”

From a non-farming background, he had the full attention of the young farmers as he told how he and his wife started farming by renting 12 acres in 1983. By 1997, this had increased to 2,700 acres. In 2003 they invested in a Missouri operation which has 7,000 cows today. Their New Zealand venture has 7,500 cows. He recently sold their 30,000 acre farm in Argentina for $83 million. “There is an opportunity of a lifetime if you are up for it,” he said.

Meanwhile, economist and chairman of Love Irish Food Jim Power said he found himself in an invidious position when he spoke about the power of the supermarket chains. Love Irish Food, which encourages people to support Irish produce, was depending on the big supermarket chains to back the plan. “But at another level if you look at the behaviour of the multiples towards primary and secondary food producers, the stories I hear are just frightening.”

He recalled meeting one food producer who wanted to talk about the power being wielded by a supermarket chain but was petrified that the supermarket would hear about it.

“The power of the multiples is a huge, huge issue that Government and policymakers need to think a lot more about because at the end of the day if consumers push for cheaper and cheaper food, it is not the retailer that will suffer. It’s the primary and secondary food manufacturers.”

Some 2,500 young people attended the three-day Macra na Feirme rally.