Legality of IFA levy collection drawn into question again
Securing the future of the €4.7m income for the IFA from commodity levies could become a logistic challenge for the association as the legality of the current procedure is drawn into question.
Senior members of the IFA are now describing the deductions from farmer payments, without the consent of the producer as "a grey area" legally which the organisation will have to further address in restoring creditability to the collection of the funding.
"It has long been a contention among producers that the deduction of a non-statutory levy from their payments for produce by processors, without their consent, was at best legally questionable, and probably would not stand up in court" a prominent farmer (who asked for his identity to be withheld) stated.
"They were taking money without the individual farmers consent, or a legal entitlement under statute, and that could not have been right, but they always got around it by claiming that any farmer who did not wish to pay could apply to the association for a refund, and some farmers who tried it found that it was not as easy as suggested", he added.
Munster Chairman, John Coughlan has now told farmers in the province that while the recent review of funding for the association found that the levy system should be retained "some changes in how the levy is operated" may be necessary.
The levy is currently collected on produce sales to co-op's, meat factories, and livestock throughput at marts, etc at 15 cents per €100 by deduction from farmer payments.
Going forward, Mr Coughlan says "we may have to canvass the individual membership to sign up to the levy" if it is to continue to be collected.
While it is believed that some of the dairy processors requested written consent for the deduction of the levy at some point in the past, a spokesperson for one of the major processors dismissed its validity to-day.