Farm Ireland
Independent.ie

Wednesday 7 December 2016

IFA takes a big hit on levies in the west

Published 07/06/2016 | 02:30

IFA National Chairman Jer Bergin. Photo: Finbarr O'Rourke.
IFA National Chairman Jer Bergin. Photo: Finbarr O'Rourke.

The IFA's €4.7m income from levies continues to be in jeopardy, with many western marts reporting drops in the revenue stream of up to a third.

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It comes amid reports that membership at the organisation continues to slide, although a spokeperson for the organisation refused to reveal the extent of the drop.

"We had a very high collection rate, but it dropped by nearly 35pc when the controversy broke in IFA headquarters," said Sixmilebridge mart manager, Sean Ryan.

"Farmers won't come back until they are happy that it is right again, and right now they can't see when that is going to happen," he said.

IFA national chairman, Jer Bergin told national council in March that paid up membership had fallen to 75,501 from a high of 88,000 in 2013.

"Our forecast to the end of March 2016 suggests a decrease of 12pc in net levy," said Mr Bergin, who added that falling prices and volumes also had an effect.

Tom McGuire of Ballinrobe mart said that his "conservative" guess was that the levy take at the mart was down by a third. He added that once farmers requested to opt out from paying the levy, "the box has remained unticked ever since".

Billy Loftus at Ballina said that he thought the levy decrease was closer to 15pc at his mart.

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"But we're still getting requests every week from farmers looking to stop the levy. They'd be guys that might not have been in here since the whole thing blew up last year."

David Quinn at Carnew mart in Wicklow said that IFA subsidies were back 20pc "over and above an existing downward trend".

However, Bandon manager Tom McCarthy said that levies were back only 5pc.

Roscommon IFA chairman John Hanley believes that the levies will never come back to the same level, while Galway's Peter Gohery said that members needed to be told what IFA staff were being paid. "It's farmers' money after all," he said.

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