Macra recorded a loss of €401,384 in 2023, with the association’s president Elaine Houlihan describing it as a “financially challenging year” for the young farmers' group.

Income at Macra increased to €3,020,694 in 2023, up from the €2,779,729 it generated in 2022. Macra received a grant of €544,576 from the Department of Children, while income from donations and legacies came to €657,076. Charitable activities income totaled €2.3m.

Speaking to the Irish Farmers Journal, Macra CEO Michael Curran said that the deficit was down to a number of things, chief of them being a €140,185 balance to the Land Mobility Service which was written off.

A Pobal grant to the tune of €62,121 which was issued to Macra in 2021, but wasn’t spent in the allocated timeframe, also had to be paid back. Curran said that the grant was issued in 2021 and spent, in its entirety, by the end of 2022.

He said that further “unexpected expenses” were incurred by the organisation last year. He cited the Steps for our Future Macra march and hosting the CEJA conference as some of the “exceptional costs” that were experienced last year.

AGM

Macra presented its accounts at its AGM last weekend in Farnham Estate, with Curran telling members in attendance that he would “be looking for my own P45” if another loss such as the one experienced in 2023 was recorded for 2024.

Other costs at Macra last year included a surge in spending on expenses. President, council and board expenses soared from €72,537 in 2022 to €127,814 last year, while another entry under 'travel and subsistence' saw a rise in spending from €81,402 to €102,470.

These increases were down to an increase in the mileage rates for Macra, which have been brought in line with civil service rates, coupled with an increase in activities and competitions in 2023, he said.

Cost cutting

When asked if Macra was in a cost-cutting regime given the loss, he said that Macra has already completed a cost-cutting exercise.

“Our finance and audit committee costs each process to make sure everything we do represents value for money. The Steps for our Future march, that cost us. Did it represent value for money? Yes. Did the CEJA conference? Yes.

“These were exceptional items, but represented value for money,” he said.

He said that he was confident in both the financial future and the future of Macra.

Membership

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There were over 11,000 members in Macra in 2023, he said, with 1,500 of these being patron members.

Macra will not be increasing its membership costs in 2024, he said, but added that it will be driving its patron option, which costs €50 a year, for those over 40. It costs €35 to become a first-time member of Macra and this rises to €60 in each subsequent year.

Looking to this year, Curran said that there are “no other shocks” on the cards. However, he did signal that the only concern is the milk levy, which helps fund the organisation. Milk levy income fell from €433,640 in 2022 to €394,445 last year.

The costs of a case against Macra by a former employee which was before the Workplace Relations Commission (WRC) is not included in the 2023 figures, as the outcome of the case was unknown at the time the accounts were signed.

Macra ended the year with €446,374 cash in hand, down from the €556,855 it recorded in 2022.

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