Thomas Duffy from Cavan is the current President-Elect of Macra Na Feirme and we can safely assume that his position will be secured on April 10th as Thomas has had no opposition this year, making him a sure bet for the presidency.
Thomas grew up in East Cavan, where he lives with his parents - Ned and Kathleen.
Two years ago, Thomas went into partnership with his parents to help run their 95-cow dairy farm. Armed with a Bachelors degree in Sustainable Agriculture from Dundalk IT and a Masters in Environmental Resource Management from UCD, Thomas is well-equipped with experience and education to take up the lead role in Macra Na Feirme.
The well-spoken Cavanman was empathetic when he spoke to Marcella Connolly – That’s Farming, about being a solo candidate.
“Well, because we’re looking at a very strong VP run this year, it shows that there’s no lack of leadership in the future of the organisation.”
“There were probably very suitable candidates with the potential to run this year but personal reasons or other matters might have just kept them out of the race”.
“The timing just may not be right. It happened in 2007 to Catherine Buckley – the first female Macra president” he added.
As a member of Macra for the past ten years, Thomas has held a number of posts in his club and county as well as nationally including; Cavan Young Farmer Chair, Cavan National Council Rep, National Ag Affairs Vice-Chairperson and National Chairperson.
There are a number of pressing issues that Thomas is keen to address - Brexit being one. “Being from a border county, I’m very aware that this is probably the region that will get hit instantaneously when Brexit comes into effect, but there are more industries that will be very badly affected by Brexit” said Thomas.
The industries he is referring to are the beef and pig industries, poultry on the border and the mushroom industry that sees a huge amount of export to the UK.
Given his educational background, it’s no wonder that climate change is high up on Thomas’ list of things to achieve and draw attention to.
His Masters dissertation was called Cattle Breeding for Adaptations to Climate Change. He agrees that last year’s weather was exceptional “an absolute disaster for most farms” said Thomas, and the trend isn’t looking too good.
“The whole climate change thing has been mostly judgemental and very negative towards farmers,” he said.
“My studies show that if you look at most of the measures that we can do to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions, they also improve our efficiency and increase our profits,” asserted Thomas.
The rollout of rural broadband is something that affects many regions in this country. Many people living in rural communities remain waiting for connectivity and according to Thomas “I would consider it to be on the level of the rural electrification scheme – it’s that level of an issue. It’s going to be expensive.”
“It requires investment and political will but it has to be done to ensure the maintenance of rural Ireland”.
Thomas promises to ensure that one of Macra’s sub-committees - the Rural Youth Committee - will have the strength to lobby and form a fully fleshed out policy.
You could feel Thomas’ leadership qualities when he projected “We will target the people who are responsible for it and ensure that our views are heard.”
With that, the conversation inevitably turned to his future as a leader of a rural farm organisation, to which he replied, “I don’t look farther than my current role.”
“Because I think that if you’re focussing on the next part of your career, you’re going to miss out on what you’re meant to be doing now.”
“My focus in the next few years in just going to be 100% on Macra na Feirme and building it into the strongest organisation that it can be and fighting for rural young people”. He explained.
For the next two years as President of Macra Na Feirme, Thomas said that he has arranged for help on the farm but that he is lucky to have very active parents who understand his new role and will continue with the farm management in his absence.
If you are a young farmer and you want to share your story, email – firstname.lastname@example.org – with a short bio.