Saturday 1 October 2016

'IFA has taken a €1m hit from FBD': McCarthy

Martin Ryan

Published 24/02/2016 | 02:30

The IFA Farm Centre in Bluebell, Dublin.
The IFA Farm Centre in Bluebell, Dublin.

IFA funding has been hit by a drop of €1m per annum in income from FBD following the collapse of profits in the insurance company, one of the candidates for the association's presidency has claimed.

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All three candidates for the IFA presidency have stressed the need to replace sources of funding to maintain current services as farmers again called for an end to the controversial levies collected by factories, dairies and marts on the IFA's behalf.

Kerry native Flor McCarthy told the hustings in Limerick that the IFA's income of €12m a year had included around €1m from FBD which was "now gone".

However, IFA headquarters stated that funding from FBD was not down by €1m but declined to provide another figure.

"We are definitely back by €2m at this stage and whether we are back more or not I cannot tell you," said Mr McCarthy.

The collection of levies by factories remained a "massive issue" but he stressed a well-funded organisation was vital to maintain services.

If a "creditable proposal" for a replacement of the levies could be placed on the table he would support it, he added.

Transparency

In addition to levies, the demand for full disclosure on IFA funding and payments - including staff salaries and expenses - dominated last week's debate between the three candidates in Limerick.

Laois-based candidate Henry Burns said transparency means knowing "what people are paid, why they are paid it and what they are benchmarked off".

Galway's Joe Healy said farmers appeared to have accepted the linking of IFA salaries to similar grades in the Department of Agriculture and that this principle should be applied to all staff going forward.

David Thompson from Pallasgreen said the "IFA has made fools of us", as he called for "full transparency" and for the organisation to get back to "delivering for farmers".

John McNamara said the new president would be the "most significant president of the IFA in a generation", adding that the new man would either be hailed a hero in two years for "having rescued the organisation" or be "taking the high road out".

There was also strong criticism of the manner in which the beef blockades at factories in 2014 had been called off "prematurely" which left producers "feeling like fools".

Mr Burns stated he was not satisfied with the outcome, while Mr Healy said he was livid over the withdrawal.

Contrary to the current French proposals in Brussels, all three candidates said that bringing back milk quotas was not an option, but neither is the continuation of milk price below the cost of production.

Meanwhile, IFA Connacht may become the first region ever in the organisation to be without a chair as the unprecedented impasse on selection of candidates for the election continues.

The IFA Rules and Privileges Committee were meeting last night to discuss the deadlock following the failure of the second round of county executive nominations to get the required second nomination.

"It is up to the five counties to agree on candidates if they want a chairman," a source said.

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