No succession scheme shows lack of regard for rural Ireland
This afternoon saw the announcement of the 2024 budget by the government, in this budget from a farming perspective we saw many supports that have been in existence for several years being renewed. These supports though essential do not address the issues that we face as a food producing nation in relation to our ability to change to meet the challenges being faces by all of us in relation to the environment.
Macra had lobbied hard for the introduction of a pilot succession scheme to facilitate the transfer of land production from one generation to the next. This transfer would have overnight increased the number of young farmers by 12%.
Macra President Elaine Houlihan said “Macra are very disappointed that the changes needed to meet our emissions targets are being loaded onto a workforce of which 1/3 are over the age of 65, Macra wants the young farmer to get a chance to show how farming can be sustainable.”
Ireland’s farming demographic points to an industry in decline, it is an industry that is aging and dying out. 33% of farmers are over the age of 65, while 6.9% of farmers are under the age of 35, in any other industry this would trigger immediate action, not so in agriculture.
Houlihan went on to say that “the omission of a succession scheme from this budget sends the message that it is business as usual, it is our friends, families and neighbours that are emigrating daily. Clearly, despite claims to the contrary rural Ireland does not matter.”
This budget, whilst delivering succour for some, will facilitate mass emigration from rural areas.
The Macra president added “though others may give up, Macra does not, for the future of rural Ireland, we have no choice but to continue on our lobbying for a farm succession scheme, we have had considerable interest in the farm succession scheme from EU member states, the feedback that we have received is that it could be made to work on the continent.”