Farm Ireland
Independent.ie

Friday 9 December 2016

Exclusive: Potential merger between two farm organisations being considered

Claire Mc Cormack

Published 29/11/2016 | 13:00

Alison Devere Hunt at the ICSA protest outside the European Comission offices in Dublin Photo: Gerry Mooney
Alison Devere Hunt at the ICSA protest outside the European Comission offices in Dublin Photo: Gerry Mooney

A potential merger between the ICSA and the Irish Grain Growers group may be on the cards, the Farming Independent has learned.

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Although neither farm organisation has confirmed an official link-up, representatives from both camps admitted that informal discussions have taken place in recent weeks.

Bobby Miller, chairman of the Irish Grain Growers said they had a “courtesy meeting” with the ICSA before their AGM on November 16.

“It’s at very early stages and we don’t know if it’s going to go any further just yet but we did meet them,” he said.

Eddie Punch (left) pictured with Patrick Kent at the ICSA Annual Conference. Photo: Michael Donnelly.
Eddie Punch (left) pictured with Patrick Kent at the ICSA Annual Conference. Photo: Michael Donnelly.

“We’re considering joining together but we’re just weighing it all up right now. There could be opportunity there but we haven’t explored it yet,” he said.

For now, Mr Miller said their main goal is growing membership from 200 to 500 and developing  a “stronger voice”.

“Every tillage farmer in the country is aware that there is less money in our bank accounts this year due to poor harvest and poor prices for the fourth year in a row.

“We are at crisis point in the tillage sector and we are being practically neglected from a Government, political and lobbying point of view,” he said.

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 Earlier this month a survey by the grain growers association found more than 85pc of farmers were dissatisfied with the current representation from farming bodies for the tillage sector.

Meanwhile, 35pc of tillage farmers said they are ‘fearful for the future’.

“We need to focus on the food grain market more, the likes of oats. There are opportunities with oilseed rape - huge potential there- pharmaceutical crops, and we fully endorse the return of the beet industry,” said Mr Miller.

These deep concerns have also resonated with the ICSA.

Eddie Punch, ICSA General Secretary, said: “grain growers have been treated terribly badly and it is shocking that the sector is declining”.

“In Simon Coveney’s time there was such obsession with dairy expansion that everything else was forgotten about. All the other sectors feel they have been left behind,” he said.

Mr Punch also admitted to recent informal discussions with the Irish Grain Growers association.

“We discussed possible areas of mutual co-operation and we’ll probably meet them again before the year is out. But no one has mentioned joining up or mergers,” he said.

“We have issues of mutual interest to grain farmers and common concern and we’re seeing where we could be on the one page,” he said.

Indo Farming