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My Journey as Macra na Feirme President

11 May 2017
My Journey as Macra na Feirme President

Having driven 101,000 miles in the past two years my term as the 35th National President of Macra na Feirme came to an end last Saturday at our National AGM.

Congratulations to the members of Leitrim County Executive for being fantastic hosts to this year’s National AGM in Drumshambo. Special thanks to joint sponsors Aurivo Co-op and Lakeland Dairies.

 I am indebted and will be forever grateful to the members of Macra na Feirme who elected me to serve as the National President of our organisation back in April 2015. The presidency has been a full time role for me and I have thoroughly enjoyed the experience. I was very fortunate to have met such wonderful people along the way within the Macra na Feirme membership and wider agri industry circles.

From the outset, my main objective was to continue the work of all my predecessors in the role and sustain the growth and development of the organisation during my term as National President.

Macra na Feirme is the only representative organisation for young farmers in this country. This is our unique selling point. I have worked tirelessly for the betterment of young farmers during my time as national president and focused on issues affecting rural youth. I have fostered the continuous development of our members’ leadership skills and capabilities, by encouraging greater member participation in all competitions and activities of the organisation.

Over the past two years our organisation has seen considerable change. In late 2015, I suggested a full review of the operational and organisational aspects of the organisation be conducted. We commissioned Jack Keyes to complete this review and he presented his report in April 2016. His recommendations are currently being implemented. Our long serving Chief Executive Edmond Connolly decided to pursue a change in career in May 2016. I would like to take this opportunity to acknowledge Edmond Connolly for his contribution to Macra na Feirme during his time. Recruiting a new Chief Executive is one of the more difficult tasks that any Macra na Feirme president may have to undertake. In October 2016 we welcomed Denis Duggan to Macra na Feirme as our new Chief Executive. Thanks to Derrie Dillon for completing the role of acting Chief Executive in the interim period.

At last weekend’s AGM the Macra na Feirme strategic plan 2017 – 2024 was presented to the membership. This comprehensive plan was drafted by Pat Bogue and Ciarán Lynch following an extensive consultation with our members and our various stakeholders over the last few months. The 2017 - 2024 strategic plan clearly plots the future direction of the organisation and actions required to deliver the members' vision for the organisation.

There have been many highlights over the past two years such as:

The presentation to Commissioner Hogan, MEPs in Brussels and Irish politicians of our CAP 2020 – Young farmer road-map for generational renewal policy paper. This was generated following an extensive consultation with approximately 1,000 young farmers.

Launching the Macra na Feirme Young Farmer Skillnet programme in July 2015 and its continued growth.

Representing young farmers on various forums and committees including the beef, dairy and tillage forums as well as charter of rights committee, direct payment advisory committee and many more.

Attending the various festivals and social events organised by members.

Successfully lobbying for a €1,000 top up payment for young dairy farmers on the EU dairy aid package money and access for new entrant sheep farmers in the sheep welfare scheme.

Launching the Safe Agri Skills programme in association with ABP Food Group at Ploughing 2016.

Meeting with all County/Regional executives to acknowledge and support county officers at local level.

Partaking in a successful mental health seminar – entitled “Let’s TALK” at Rally 2015.

Successful lobbying to secure a 2017 National Reserve for young trained farmers.

Participating in numerous CEJA working groups in Brussels and CEJA events in Luxembourg, Milan and Cologne.

Launching the Afforestation policy document developed by Thomas Duffy and the Agri Affairs committee.

Presentation of submission to Agriculture Minister Michael Creed for an amendment to the Rural Development Programme to include grazing infrastructure (roadways and water infrastructure) in TAMS.

Representing Macra na Feirme and young farmers on the IFA Executive Council.

The continued growth of the Land Mobility service supported by FBD Trust, Aurivo, Glanbia, Dairygold and the Department of Agriculture which in the pilot phase from 2014 – 2016 resulted in the mobilisation of approximately 25,000 acres of land in 282 collaborative farming arrangements.

Highlighting issues affecting young farmers and rural youth to various Oireachtas committees.

Attending various 5 Nations events and the European Rally in Belfast hosted by the Young Farmers Clubs of Ulster.

Ranking of Macra na Feirme as one of the top 10 lobbying organisations in Ireland.

Appointment as a CEJA representative to the CAP Civil Dialogue group.

Welcoming Agri Aware and the Irish Farmers Journal to my farm to shoot the Agri Aware CAP series video on the young farmer scheme.

 

I wish our new President James Healy and Vice Presidents Sharon Corcoran (Northwest), Tom O Donoghue (Munster) and Cara O Mahony (Leinster) the very best of luck in their new roles.

I would also like to acknowledge the hard work, dedication and support of the three outgoing Vice Presidents Caroline O Dowd in the North West, Odile Evans in Leinster and Gerard Griffin in Munster. Thanks to the national officers of the organisations and committee chairpersons who served in the various roles over the last two years. I would like to acknowledge the support and work of the Macra na Feirme staff led by Chief Executive Denis Duggan. Finally, Macra na Feirme is a wonderful organisation with a very enthusiastic membership and I sincerely thank all the volunteer members and leaders for their support and encouragement during my time as national president.

Best of luck to you all for the future,

Seán Finan

National President 2015 - 2017