Transparent approach the key on levies - survey
THE findings of the Farming Independent survey carried out at the National Ploughing Championships makes for interesting reading.
There is much to consider in the standout findings. The fact that 65pc of all farmers and 67pc of full-time farmers believe that the collection of membership levies for the farm organisations by dairy and meat processors restricts the independence of the farm bodies is hardly surprising.
It is an issue that has often been raised over the last year and is a complaint that invariably surfaces during times of tension between processors and farmers.
In statements to the Farming Independent, both the IFA and ICMSA defended the levy collection system - and insisted the policy was essential to the funding of the organisations and the delivery of services to their members.
Indeed, there is an acceptance among farmers themselves that the levies are a funding source that would be difficult to replace. This was reflected by close to 39pc of farmers saying the policy of processors collecting levies should be maintained.
However, with a majority of full-time farmers (54pc) wanting the practice discontinued, the farm organisations will have to address the issue.
How can this be done without a loss of income?
One option is greater transparency on how all funds are spent. This includes being totally open on salaries and bonuses paid to every employee and on the expenses paid to both staff and elected officers.