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By Christmas, IFA will have a new president-in-waiting.
Joe Healy will have completed his term and the next
incumbent will be assessing his priorities for the New
Year. `Priorities' could be replaced with `problems',
of which there are plenty for the organisation. John
Coughlan, Tim Cullinan and Angus Woods are the three
candidates for whom IFA members are currently voting.
Disintegration of farmer representation
The continuing disintegration of farmer representation
across all commodities and farm types presents a major
challenge for whichever one succeeds Joe Healy. While
farmers diff er in their scale and enterprises, there has
always been an assumption that a certain unity of purpose
is the only positive way to progress their needs. That is
clearly no longer the case. With up to seven diff erent
organisations all claiming to know what is best for cattle
farmers aspiring to sit around the table at the Beef Task
Force, the only certainty is that the beef factories will have
little to fear. The threat of further factory-gate protests is
just an idle one. The consequences of the last protest for
farmers with fi t cattle and no outlet means that a re-run is
highly unlikely.
What if anything was achieved from the beef protests
apart from highlighting the inequity in the beef sector
and some transient public sympathy. The price of beef
did not go up and it will now be after Christmas before
any upward movement of consequence will begin. In
the meantime, thousands of farmers have suff ered cuts
for overweight and overage cattle. Extra costs have been
borne keeping cattle beyond their sell-by dates. The
overhang of fi nished cattle awaiting slaughter has helped
to depress prices beyond what would have happened if
numbers had been reduced during those critical weeks
when the protesters closed the factories. Did no-one
foresee the consequences or is it just an unwillingness to
criticise fellow farmers who were badly advised and led?
IFA National Returning Offi
Richard Kennedy & Secretary to
the Rules Committee Bryan Barry
supervise the distribution of ballot
papers to branches ahead of voting.
Photo credit: Finbarr O'Rourke
Challenges facing
next IFA president
Matt O'Keeff e reviews the IFA
landscape in advance of the new
IFA President taking up the helm
from Joe Healy