YFCU President Martyn Blair believes that 2014 has been a landmark year for the organisation which represents the interests of young farmers in Northern Ireland.
“We are now recognised as a critically important stakeholder group with the farming industry,” he explained.
“The most clear cut example of this has been our close co-operation with the Department of Agriculture in helping to develop a cohesive policy for young farmers in the context of the new CAP reform measures.
“We have played a proactive role in helping to secure realistic policies for Northern Ireland. And as part of this process it was tremendously satisfying to have Department staff take our core suggestions on board and to have these forwarded to Brussels for direct consideration by the European Commission.
“By common consent, the steps taken by YFCU to facilitate and promote CAFRE’s Level 2 qualification courses have encouraged large numbers of young farmers to participate in this process. While all those taking part may not go on to apply for the new CAP support measures, the additional training they receive will prove invaluable as they develop their own farm businesses for the future.”
Martyn Blair believes that YFCU can help deliver a number of key objectives for local agriculture, chief among them being the challenge to reduce the average age of farmers and to facilitate the challenge of succession within farming families.
“These are issues that we are already championing and, obviously, we want to build on this for the future. The reality is that young farmers have a voice and, through the YFCU, they now have the opportunity to engage with all the other stake holder groups in making their views known.”
Looking ahead, the YFCU President is quick to confirm that his priorities for 2015 include the bedding down of the new young farmer support measures as quickly as possible.
“It is crucially important that we have clarification from both Brussels issues on all outstanding matters as quickly as possible.
“What we want to ensure is that the additional support monies are made available to those young farmers who can make best use of it,” he concluded.