Revenue slump leaves IFA facing income dilemma

Farm organisation down €100,000 per month on levies

New IFA President Joe Healy. Photo: Frank Mc Grath.
New IFA President Joe Healy. Photo: Frank Mc Grath.
Darragh McCullough

Darragh McCullough

The IFA'S income is down by close to €100,000 per month due to a massive slump in levy collection at marts, meat factories and dairy plants.

The review of the funding model for the organisation concluded that the 70-strong workforce would be cut by up to 50pc if the levy collection system that delivered €4.7m into the IFA's coffers was abandoned.

The alternative of relying more heavily on membership fees would require a 140pc increase in membership costs.

The startling findings were presented to the national executive of the IFA at its headquarters in Bluebell last week. As a result, the organisation has opted to hang on to the widely criticised levy collection system.

While a statement from the organisation in March maintained that it still had 75,000 paid-up members, sources within the organisation said that the current figure is much lower.

An IFA spokesman declined to provide up-to-date figures.

The internal review is being carried out by an implementation committee headed up by former liquid milk chairman Teddy Cashman following the Lucey report that was published last December.

The committee has spent the last six months reviewing the former chief economist's recommendations, with a view to taking action during 2016.

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While it is believed that the vast majority of the staff are willing to have their salaries revealed to the national executive, the current proposal is to simply publish the total pay for the 70 staff in a single global figure.

While a pay cut of 3-8pc has been mooted, staff expenses are also in the firing line.


Meanwhile, the lobby group plans to launch a revamped membership benefits package ahead of canvassing current and lapsed members for their 2016 subscriptions.

One of the biggest criticisms of the organisation from grassroots in recent months has been the perceived dependence that the IFA has on meat and dairy processors to collect levies on their behalf, along with the secrecy that surrounded the process.

Members are concerned that this arrangement may compromise the IFA's ability to challenge these businesses on meat and milk prices.

Despite these concerns, the national executive concluded that the levy system remained the "fairest and most appropriate mechanism for funding the association and maintaining services to farmers".

Joe Healy, who was elected IFA president two months ago, has stressed that a strong and well-resourced association "is vital to provide the representation and service that farmers rely upon".

The outcome of the review, which was noted by Council, found that the current system "allows farmers to contribute, proportionately and fairly, based on the size of their farm and value of their output".

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