Farmers will have the chance to put the next president of the IFA under the microscope as the election hopefuls come to Cavan this evening.
The IFA’s election debate for the president and deputy president will take place in The Hotel Kilmore, Cavan on Thursday March 10 at 8pm.
Candidates running for president are: Livestock Chairman Henry Burns, Farm Business rep from Galway Joe Healy, and Rural Development Chairman Flor McCarthy.
County Cavan Chairman James Speares said the debate is an opportunity for all IFA members to hear presentations from the candidates and to participate in an open forum.
“The IFA election is unique as it allows every member the chance to hear what candidates are offering, and then they have a vote in the national contest,” said Mr Speares.
Each candidate has been prominent in raising issues during in this campaign.
In his role as livestock chairman Henry Burns said last week that the IFA is not prepared to sign off on a new Beef and Lamb Quality Assurance Scheme, which is currently being negotiated with Bord Bia, without addressing farmer concerns with the current scheme, and introducing substantial changes involving simplification and a more farmer-friendly approach.
He said the problems around audits and inspectors with the current scheme must be addressed and a close out system, whereby farmers can correct issues without being expelled from the scheme for six months, must be included. He said there is a growing view among farmers that Bord Bia is too much on the factory side.
Flor McCarthy recently welcomed the clarification by the Department of Agriculture on the qualification of farmers in partnerships for ANC payment.
Mr McCarthy said that for 2016 the partnership must apply for BPS using the online system.
ANC payment is also applied for by ticking the appropriate box on the online BPS application form. Each partner will be given the opportunity to declare the lands they individually bring to the partnership.
Flor McCarthy said it was important that outstanding cases for the 2015 scheme are also treated in the same way as they applied in good faith as qualifying for more than one payment.
Meanwhile Joe Healy has called for major changes to the association’s policy on the collection of commodity levies, describing the current situation as “totally unsatisfactory”.
“These IFA levies are actually farmer members’ money. Members deserve full disclosure of the administration fees being charged by all organisations that collect levies on behalf of the IFA,” Mr Healy said.
“In addition, members need greater clarity regarding the manner in which these levy payments are made by the dairies, factories and marts to the IFA,” he explained.
The three candidates for the deputy position will also feature. They are Pat Farrell of Kildare, Richard Kennedy of Limerick, and Monaghan’s Nigel Renaghan.
Ahead of that presidential debate the Lavey Inn in Stradone will host the county AGM on Monday, March 14, 8.30pm. Special guest speakers include Kevin Kinsella, IFA Director of Livestock, Colin Connolly, Rural Crime Prevention Executive, IFA and Sergeant Noel Harraghy Garda Crime Prevention officer for Cavan/Monaghan. Mr Speares is inviting all farm families to attend.