The new year presents an opportunity for the IFA to reinvent itself
Published 06/01/2016 | 02:30
The start of the year is a good time to take stock. From a farmers point of view, it is hard to look past the fiasco that is the IFA at the moment.
I suppose we have to ask ourselves the question - how did it all go so wrong? But when you look at it with the benefit of hindsight, perhaps its not so surprising.
Less than a year ago the organisation celebrated 60 years in existence with an event that was so opulent that it was almost vulgar because it was so detached from the normality of the majority of the lives of its 85,000 members.
When the proverbial hit the fan, I, like a lot of farmers, attended the local meetings that were organised to keep us informed at what was going on. I have often attended farmers meetings where there was anger about particular issues, whether it was beef prices, milk prices or grain prices but I never remember attending a meeting where there was such venom in the anger.
I would think that was because the sense of betrayal is bad enough but the fact that we feel we have been betrayed by our own cuts to the very bone.
But the one thing that I am certain of is that we need a strong organisation to represent farmers and it's certainly going to be a major task, which certainly won't be done in the short-term, to rebuild IFA.
If IFA is to have any hope of restoring farmer confidence, the first thing that has to happen is that the elected members need to pull together for the good of farmers, put aside, even for a while, all the political jockeying for positions that goes on in IFA.
All members also need to read the Lucey report. Some people in the organisation did do their job. For me, one of the most disappointing things that came out of the report is that national council was passive.