Farm Ireland

Wednesday 26 October 2016

IFA draw up shortlist for top job

Martin Ryan

Published 21/09/2016 | 02:30

IFA Deputy President Richard Kennedy speaking following his election earlier this year. Photo: Finbarr O'Rourke.
IFA Deputy President Richard Kennedy speaking following his election earlier this year. Photo: Finbarr O'Rourke.

The odds on the new IFA Director General (DG) being in place before 2017, more than a year after the position became vacant, are lengthening.

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The delay is also hampering progress on finding a clear funding alternative to the current commodity levy for the organisation. However, a statutory levy on the single farm payment (BPS) is now being seriously considered.

First interviewing of applicants for the top post in the country's largest farming lobby group are now being scheduled for October.

IFA Deputy President Richard Kennedy has confirmed that 25 applications were received for the post and consultants KPMG, who were retained by the IFA for the process, have prepared a shortlist of less than eight candidates, which was handed to the IFA leadership last week.

"Interviews will take place over the coming weeks and we will see how it goes - we are working on it and anxious to get the position filled as soon as possible," he said.

But it is understood that some of the applicants for the position have now indicated that they are no longer interested, which may further complicate the process.

It is unlikely that the position will be offered to the first successful candidate before November and given the likely requirement to serve contractual notice of termination, it may be early spring before the new appointment will be in place at the Irish Farm Centre.

Mr Kennedy said that everyone involved is fully aware of the length of time that the process is taking, and that members want to see more progress with reform of the organisation.

Meanwhile, the IFA's Review Committee on Reform, which has been mandated to shortlist means of replacing the current controversial levy system, has proposed a levy on the €1.2bn annual direct payments to farmers.

Discussions centre on the rate of levy required, with some suggestion that it would need to be more than double the current 0.15pc rate if it was only applied to the Basic Payment Scheme.

Munster Chairman John Coughlan has told farmers in his region, "it would have to be a statutory payment ... with the Department of Agriculture making the deduction from each farmer's entitlement and passing the money on to the IFA."

He added, "I would see a difficulty with that, because it would require legislation and some farmers may feel that it could compromise the IFA in dealings with the Department of Agriculture".

He said that the current rate of 0.15pc would not be adequate and "it would have to go to 0.375pc or higher" if the payments under the BPS were reduced in the future.

Another proposal has been increasing the annual membership from the current average of €100 to €240 per annum, which the organisation fears may have a detrimental effect on membership.

The view of the IFA is that the current levy is the "fairest" system and should be continued with "more accountability and more transparency".

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