Voting reform is the first of many challenges for the IFA
Two things that really get IFA members animated are the collection of farm levies and the weighted voting system used in its national elections. The former is already a hot topic in the current election campaigns but the latter could be resolved today when the executive council will consider moving to a simple one-member one-vote system.
There is a sense in the IFA now that anything old is bad and that anything new will be better but the organisation has actually been steadily moving in this direction over a number of elections.
The association regards the branch as its fundamental unit and each of the 946 branches is effectively its own constituency, voting by proportional representation (PR) and the branch result then feeding into the overall count.
Originally, each branch counted as a single vote regardless of how many members voted.
The weighted vote was introduced for the 2005 elections as part of the Dowling reforms to reflect the disparity in branch size. Under this system there is one national vote allocated for every 25 individual votes cast by branch members.
This was initially subject to a maximum of four national votes but the cap on that was raised for the 2013 elections when some branches generated up to eight votes.
The big drawback of the current system is the perception that, because whoever wins the branch gets all the national votes, the support for different candidates is being washed out at an early stage.
Members believing the candidate they support will be in the minority, may stay away from the branch vote because of the fear they would just be feeding into a higher weighted vote for the winner.