Analysis: Dispute exposes flaws in IFA's funding model
Published 24/08/2016 | 02:30
There has always been a very distinct cultural difference between Ireland's dairy and beef sectors.
While the former has been dominated by farmer-owned co-ops, hard-nosed businessmen have held sway in the latter since the demise of the farmer-owned Irish Meat Packers in the early 1980s.
However, farmer influence at board level in the dairy processors - and in the marts - could prove crucial over the coming weeks as the battle between the IFA and ABP gathers steam.
Whatever the motivation behind changing the procedures for collecting the European Involvement Fund (EIF) levy, ABP has certainly struck the farm organisations on a weak flank.
Levies by their very nature are disliked by farmers, but the fact that the EIF is collected by the factories on behalf of the farm organisations makes it doubly unpopular.
Even farmers who agree with the concept of levies are uneasy with the reality of meat processors collecting these funds.
And that is because it is difficult to refute the contention that this method of collecting funds weakens the independence of the farm bodies and compromises their ability to fight for higher cattle and sheep prices.
Last year's IFA salary scandal has further complicated the debate, with some farmers associating the income generated by the EIF with the inflated wages and perks paid to Bluebell's top brass.