Farm Ireland
Independent.ie

Saturday 3 December 2016

Financial backlash expected as farmers digest the news

Published 25/11/2015 | 02:30

Millions of euro are creamed off farmers’ milk cheques, meat factory sales, and mart-ring sales through the incongruously named European Involvement Fund
Millions of euro are creamed off farmers’ milk cheques, meat factory sales, and mart-ring sales through the incongruously named European Involvement Fund

It is too early to know exactly how much this IFA scandal is going to cost the organisation.

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The lack of transparency in the IFA has always prevented real analysis by outsiders.

But also, farmers have only been digesting the news in the past 24 hours. As Milford mart manager John Stewart said: "I got a few calls yesterday from farmers looking to pull their levies, but our first mart of the week will be tomorrow, and I'd dare say we'll have a lot more then."

Millions of euro are creamed off farmers' milk cheques, meat factory sales, and mart-ring sales through the incongruously named European Involvement Fund.

It takes 0.15pc of every litre of milk and kilo of meat sold through beef and dairy plants, and co-op sales rings.

The payment is voluntary - but conveniently for the farming organisations it is up to the farmer to request that the levy is lifted, if they so wish.

With milk production soaring by 20pc in the past five years to a projected 6.2 billion litres this year, and beef sales increasing in value on the back of strong sterling and British demand, the levies have been an increasing source of income for the three beneficiaries - the IFA, a smaller dairy lobby group called the ICMSA, and Macra na Feirme.

Not every mart or meat plant deducts the levy, and it's estimated that one-third of farmers have opted out of the levy system. But the pot is still worth well over €4m a year, with the IFA getting the lion's share of the spoils.

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Meat and milk plant managers admitted yesterday that they were getting many more calls than normal from furious farmers looking to withdraw their support for levies.

Membership subsidies also make up a share of the IFA's annual income of €12.9m, but again we are not told by how much.

The rest of the income comes from IFA businesses such as IFA Telecom.

Irish Independent



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