Farm Ireland

Friday 20 April 2018

Farmers say end to levies will make IFA independent

Larry Goodman of APB Photo: Frank McGrath
Larry Goodman of APB Photo: Frank McGrath

Greg Harkin

Many farmers upset by the IFA salaries scandal have welcomed a decision by the country's biggest beef processor to end the levies system.

Larry Goodman's Anglo Beef Processors (ABP) has told the Irish Farmers' Association that levies charged on animals will no longer be collected on its behalf.

ABP says it is reacting to farmer opposition to levies, and it appears some farmers in the country agree.

Brendan McLaughlin, a suckler farmer from Manorcunningham, Co Donegal, said the perceived closeness between the factories and the IFA had left farmers voiceless.

"I never thought I'd agree with Larry Goodman on anything but this is the right move for farmers," said Brendan.

"I'd rather see membership fees treble than take money off factories," he said.

"I was in Tullamore (at the agricultural show) last week and that was the overwhelming view there.

"We should be taking on the factories so beef farmers get a fair price."

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Jim Ryan set up his own farm-to-fork business in Ballinlough, Co Meath, in 2008.

"I was in a situation where I was fed up with the factories and we now run a very successful business providing beef, lamb and pork directly to the customer," he said.

"The sooner the IFA falls out with the factories, the better. We have had a situation where the IFA has been in a position where it can't bite the hand that feeds it. The biggest crime in farming in this country is that farmers own the land, we own the animals and rear them at enormous risk and we get nothing for it. All levies should be done away with in my view."

He said his 'farm-to-fork' business - which included direct supplies to restaurants - ensured he "wasn't beholden" to factories any more.

"I still hear all the time of cases where farmers aren't getting treated fairly," he said.

Farmer and cattle dealer John McDaid, from Ramelton, said grassroots IFA members no longer want to pay levies at the factory gate or at marts.

"We (IFA) have to pay our own way and I'm totally opposed to all levies," said John.

"It's time for farmers to organise themselves properly. The factories have had all the power and we have to take that power away from them.

"I'd love for us (farmers) to all stay at home for a week. We'd soon see prices change."

Raymond Golden, who is a beef farmer outside Ballymote, Co Sligo, insisted small farmers are struggling.

"The IFA is a shambles at the moment," he said.

"It's the small farmer who is suffering. Prices for beef are rising in England but going down here. The average farm income €15,000 a year so we are the last people who can afford any sort of levy and the whole lot should be scrapped. The IFA need to represent us. They could always cut salaries if they need to save money."

Irish Independent