IFA could face legal challenge on levy collection system
IFA to target services at farmers who pay levies
The IFA could face legal challenges to its levy collection system which identifies farmers opting out of the levy collected by meat processors, marts and co-ops on the association's behalf.
The levy was worth €3.2m last year to the association, which is now seeking the names, addresses, phone numbers and herd numbers of farmers who do not contribute.
Farmers opting out of the levy are obliged to complete a form which states that the details provided will be given to the IFA.
The IFA says the revamped levy collection system will ensure that it can prioritise services to farmers who pay the levy. It also said the farmer’s information is only passed to IFA if the farmer signs the form and gives explicit consent to do so.
Formal agreements have now been finalised by the IFA with some of the country's largest dairy processors for the ongoing collection of the levy.
And it is understood that agreement has also been finalised with the Dawn Meats Group for collection of the levy and talks are at an advanced stage with the Kepak Group.
However, a leading data protection expert has questioned the legality of the IFA's bid to identify farmers who opt out of levies.
Dr TJ McIntyre, a solicitor and law lecturer at UCD, said there must be a legal basis to provide information to third parties and this must normally be done on an 'opt-in' basis.