Macra na Feirme calls for aid for young farmers

Installation aid scheme would help young farmers to get established, conference told

The year's biggest gathering of young farmers is underway in Carlow this weekend as more than 2,500 people take part in Macra na Feirme's annual conference.

Delegates have heard the organisation's president Kieran O'Dowd calling on Minister for Agriculture Simon Coveney to introduce a new installation aid scheme, which would help young farmers to get established. Mr O'Dowd said there was a provision for such a scheme in the reformed Common Agricultural Policy and the EU was willing to co-finance it.

“The fact that the EU are prepared to agree to such a high co-financing ratio means that installation aid is a key component of incentivising young farmers’ entry to agriculture,” he said.

Mr O’Dowd said it was essential that such a scheme was targeted at young trained farmers who were setting up in the industry for the long haul.

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“Objective criteria is vital as well as a business plan and perhaps setting targets to ensure that the money is spent on what it is intended for. I believe that if set up in the correct way the package will be a significant boost to young farmers and consequently have a positive effect on rural communities,” he said.

Later today delegates will discuss the reformed Common Agricultural Policy, and how it will impact on them, with Prof Alan Renwick of UCD, Fine Gael MEP Mairead McGuinness MEP, and Mike Brady, president of the Agricultural Consultants Association.

Alison Healy

Alison Healy

Alison Healy is a contributor to The Irish Times