Macra president John Keane has said that Minster for Agriculture Charlie McConalogue’s Food Vision Dairy Group cannot result in “something dressed up as the reintroduction of quotas”.

Speaking to the Irish Farmers Journal before the first meeting of the group on Monday 7 February, the young dairy and beef farmer said that there cannot be a situation proposed where there is a cap in the growth of the family farm business.

He said the setting up of the group was a “tactical move” to split the country’s livestock sectors up, adding that the future of the livestock sector should be looked at as a whole.

“The last meeting of this group cannot recommend something dressed up as the reintroduction of quotas on farms," said Keane.

“Owen Aston, the FBD Young Farmer of the Year, or any guy or girl like him, where will they fit in the future unless a parent has access to land? They won’t get into the sector.”


Keane said that Macra has constantly said that the Minister and the Department have to come out with a target, a number or a percentage, of young farmers at the head of the holding by the end of 2027 or at the very worst 2030.

“Everything farmers are doing has targets - the environment, the Organic Farming Scheme - they all have targets. Young farmers are at a low level for the last 25 years.

Viability is not a target that stands still

“There’s been nothing substantial to address it, we need to see where he’s aiming for. If we look at other business sectors, trades for example, for a barometer young people make up 30%.

“We’re living in the real work, there’s a lot of work to be done. The Nordic countries have 12% or 13% young farmers - why can’t our Minister aim for 20% and address generational renewal? We need this target,” he said.

Keane added that as many farms as possible need to remain viable.

“Viability is not a target that stands still,” he said.