Farm Ireland

Monday 18 December 2017

Forgotten farmers claim they have been ignored by IFA

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

Theresa Murphy

Heated contributions on the issue surrounding 'forgotten farmers' led to a walk-out during a packed IFA hustings in Roscommon last week.

Several members of the audience abandoned the meeting in protest over limits on the number of questions they were allowed to ask of the candidates.

Attendees claimed that forgotten farmers had been ignored by the IFA.

It was one of a number of issues raised by nearly 300 farmers who attended the Abbey Hotel in Roscommon to hear the candidates for the IFA's deputy and presidential election.

Flooding, the beef genomics scheme, the lack of transparency in IFA headquarters, and access to British markets dominated.

Chairman John Hanley allowed each of the deputy president candidates five minutes to set out their stalls, while the presidential hopefuls got 10 minutes each before taking questions from the floor.

Each of the candidates emphasised their farming experience and ability to negotiate with the "big boys in Brussels".

All called for the dredging of the Shannon and insisted that flora and fauna cannot be put before people, which went down well with the midlands audience.

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Chairman Mr Hanley raised the issue of access to the Northern Irish Markets for cattle.

Joe Healy declared the failure by IFA to make progress on access to the lucrative Northern Irish market was "sad" and branded the use of the term 'nomads' for high quality Irish cattle "an insult".

Henry Burns said the refusal by the UK to use the EU label which identifies Irish cattle was effectively denying Ireland a Single EU market and that a case would have to go to Brussels.

"There is an EU label that we can use, the reality is there is a mandatory label, the one place we can't use it is in the UK," he said.

Flor McCarthy focussed on the need to rid the market of the cartel that had control of the industry.

"The three big players dominating the sector is not acceptable, I will take them on. We need unity within the organisation," he said.

All three promised to deliver a €200 per cow and €20 per ewe payment, with Mr Burns claiming that he had fought for the right to couple payments.

Mr Healy insisted that the suckler cow scheme was "one of the best schemes that we had", but expressed fears that the dairy herd will have too much influence on the beef market because of the way the star ratings are linked into the scheme.

The final question from the floor claimed that a lack of transparency in the IFA had precipitated these elections. But all three candidates assured the crowd that the organisation would be strong once more.

Indo Farming