IFA needs a radical overhaul - Cullinan

Average farm wage just €22 a day - Coughlan

Tim Cullinan
Tim Cullinan
John Coughlan
Angus Woods
Margaret Donnelly

Margaret Donnelly

A radical overhaul of IFA structures, including a new system to represent livestock farmers is being proposed by IFA presidential candidate Tim Cullinan.

The North Tipperary farmer and current IFA treasurer is proposing two new beef committees - a suckler and livestock committee and a finishers committee within the organisation.

He said the move is necessary and highlighted by recent beef protests and factory negotiations.

"IFA has lost the support of many farmers in the livestock sector. To make IFA fit for purpose and capable of delivering results for farmers, I will undertake a radical overhaul of IFA's structures."

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In what is the most significant call by any of the three presidential candidates, who started their election hustings last night in Limerick, Mr Cullinan is also proposing a new management board, which would include the chairs from the new committees.

"The new IFA management board will place serious value on the input of the national chairmen in the key sectors and will meet regularly and be highly proactive," he said.

"No issues will go unnoticed or unacted upon again.

"There is a loud demand from members for the organisation to listen to farmers in all sectors and IFA must respond to those demands to remain relevant."

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Meanwhile, John Coughlan has proposed a new contract pricing mechanism for beef farmers, a low-interest rate fund for young farmers, and ringfencing 40pc of carbon tax revenues for a Green Farmer Fund.

Average farm incomes - at €23,400/yr - are 40pc less than the average industrial wage, and only 5pc of farmers are under 35 years old, with big decisions on CAP reform, Brexit and the beef crisis imminent.

Describing his manifesto as "farmer-focused", Coughlan said he would emphasise farm incomes, fair prices, farm families, future-proofing farming, farm schemes and entitlements, and IFA reform to include better communications among the membership.

Angus Woods said Irish farming is at a vital crossroads and his message is about unity, with one voice to defend farming. "Too many farming families are struggling to make even a modest income," he said.

"We need to protect our incomes and our families today and provide the time and space to adjust our farms to thrive in the future - in markets that are transparent and fair. Divisions among farmers weaken our ability to respond to the many challenges facing us."

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