CEJA column, Issue 41, December 2017

In our series of interviews with Vice Presidents of CEJA (European Council of Young Farmers), this month we speak to Seán Finan.

MF: What is your involvement in farming?
SF: I returned home to the family farm in 2006 having completed a degree in Civil Engineering at the National University of Ireland, Galway. I then completed my agricultural education and started farming with my father on the family farm in Roscommon in the West of Ireland. We run a beef cattle enterprise and purchase heifers at 7 to 8 months of age at approximately 300kg and sell them a year later at approximately 600kg as forward stores for further finishing. The main breeds of animal we feed are Charolais with some Limousin and Belgian Blue crosses as well.

MF: Do you think it is more difficult for aspiring young farmers who don’t come from a family farm to enter the sector?
SF: Yes, I think it’s more difficult to enter farming for individuals from non-family-farm backgrounds. The main barriers to entry into agriculture are access to land and access to credit. Young farmers who don't come from a family farm have to source land if they want to enter the sector. This is not easy due to a lack of land mobility across the European Union. Young farmers who don't own land also find it harder to access finance or credit. This is due to the fact that in most cases young farmers don’t own land so they don't have security/collateral to secure a loan. We need to promote more collaborative farming structures such as partnerships, share farming arrangements or long term leases. Collaborative arrangements give young farmers the opportunity to work with established farmers to build their skills, knowledge and equity before establishing themselves. The Macra na Feirme Land Mobility Service in Ireland is a very good example of a successful programme which facilitates the establishment of collaborative farming arrangements and addresses the issue of land mobility.

MF: What drew you to the young farmers’ movement and why is it important?
SF: I got involved in the Irish young farmers’ organisation Macra na Feirme to develop my interpersonal and leadership skills through participation in speaking, performing arts, and young farmer and social activities. I later got involved in the organisation’s agricultural affairs committee which generates young farmer policy and lobbies for its implementation in Ireland and Europe. I held many young farmer officer roles through the years at local, county, regional and national level, culminating in me becoming the organisation’s 35th President in April 2015. I held the role until May 2017. A huge portion of my time in that role was spent working on young farmer policy issues at a national and European level.

MF: How long have you been involved with CEJA and what does your current role as CEJA Vice President entail?
SF:My involvement began when I became President of Macra na Feirme in April 2015. I have actively participated in all CEJA activities from then up to the present. CEJA is a wonderful organisation which works tirelessly on a daily basis in Brussels on young farmer issues on behalf of all European Young Farmers across the EU.

MF: As a CEJA Vice President what would you like to achieve?
SF:The next two years offer a wonderful opportunity to shape the future of farming for our generation of young farmers and the next generation through the discussions on CAP 2020. The structure and outline of CAP 2020 will be agreed in this period. I’ll work closely with the Presidency, CEJA staff, member organisations and all other stakeholders to ensure that young farmers are at the centre of the next CAP 2020 policy. I’ll lobby determinedly for the implementation of the CEJA policies within CAP 2020 proposals.

If you would like to get in contact with Seán Finan or CEJA, email:

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