It is always refreshing to attend an event where enthusiasm and a positive outlook prevail. Such was the case at the Macra na Feirme National Conference which ran over the October Bank Holiday weekend in Carlow with Ulster Bank as main sponsor.
Conference delegates interacted well with the panel of speakers and an often lively exchange ensued. Speakers were Ireland East MEP Mairead McGuinness, UCD agricultural economist Alan Renwick and Cork farm consultant Mike Brady. Conference sponsors Dr Anne-Marie Butler (Ulster Bank) and Paul Nolan (Dawn Meats) also addressed the 350 conference attendees.
Cheque in the post
Mairead McGunness outlined the over reliance of Irish agriculture on the ‘cheque in the post’ and the need for a continued focus on efficiency and profitability. She warned that growing budgetary pressures within the EU meant Irish farmers could not count on the same level of financial support going forward.
Mike Brady suggested that dairy farmer numbers would fall from 18,000 to 9,000 over the next decade while Alan Renwick questioned the merits of the 25% top-up on payments to young farmers under the new CAP regime.
All in all, a lively debate with plenty of food for thought as the National CAP (Common Agricultural Policy) negotiations continue.