Former Dairy Board Chair Tom Cleary passes away

Tom Cleary
Tom Cleary
Claire Fox

Claire Fox

Former chair of Bord Bainne and Tipperary native Tom Cleary has died.

The man from Cloughjordan in north Tipperary spent a quarter of century as chairman of the Irish Dairy Board (IDB).

He was the 2003 recipient of the Plunkett Award by ICOS in recognition of his service to the co-operative movement.

He became involved in Macra na Feirme shortly after its formation in 1944 - he later served as county chairman of the young farmer body and also met his late wife Beatrice through Macra as she was secretary of the executive.

In the early 1950s he campaigned for Nenagh Co-Op to build a creamery at Cloughjordan; later served on its board for many years; became chairman of the NFA national dairy committee; took a seat on the first elected IDB board in 1974 and went on to become the only member ever elected continuously for a period of 28 years, the last 20 years of which were served as chairman.

"I remember the 1960s when the Government set the price that farmers got for milk. The increase was announced in the budget. It was a political issue," he told the Farming Independent in 2014.

"Then there was the two-tier price which paid a bonus of 2p/gallon on the first 7,000 gallons per year. About 85pc of producers were supplying less than 7,000 gallons at that time. At that time 20 cows was considered a very large herd," he recalled.

"When Ireland became members of the EEC in 1972 it was the first real boost that dairy farmers got. The adjustment to bring Ireland into line with the other countries doubled the price some years.

"Dairying entered a new era with the large EEC markets for produce. That was a huge boost and farmers responded by increasing production through the seventies."

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Tom Cleary with the late Jimmy O'Keeffe former ICMSA president

Tom insisted that farmers must think positively but plan prudently for the 'new' post-quota era in dairying.

 "Production on farms was increasing at the time the quota came in because of the improvement in the milk price after joining the EEC. Quite a few farmers had increased production, but others were afraid of the price falling and when the quota came in they were caught with small quotas.

'I see the same thing happening today. Irrespective of the price of milk, controlling costs is going to be the big problem for farmers. The cost of energy is going to keep going up as well as all of the other things and no one expects milk prices to remain as they are now," Tom maintains.

Mr Cleary will repose at Ryans Funeral home, Nenagh, (Postcode E45KN93) on Wednesday evening from 3.30 until removal at 7.30pm. Arriving at SS Michael & Johns Church, Cloughjordan at 8pm.

His funeral Mass on Thursday at 11am followed by burial in the adjoining cemetery.

He is survived by his two children Dermot and Deirdre, son-inlaw, Roger, grandchildren, Roisín, Kevin & Jack; sisters, Maura, Kitty, Sr Bridget & Sr Peggy, brothers-in-law, Br. Denis & Michael Hurley, sisters-in-law, Ena & Jenny, nieces & nephews,neighbours, relatives and friends.

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