There are now almost 80,000 IFA members and income to the Association from EIF Contributions stands at €4.7m – that’s according to today’s report from IFA National Chairman Jer Bergin to the Executive Council of the Association in Dublin earlier.
In presenting the report Mr. Bergin said he remained committed to the work programme to re-build the trust of the membership; to continue the important day-to-day work of IFA in delivering on behalf of farmers; and to organise elections that will see a new leadership take over next month. He went on to say that the total fully paid-up members eligible to vote in the election for President and Deputy President stands at 75,501. He outlined that 528 members have cancelled since the events of November.
The IFA National Chairman reported that over 96% of the 30,335 calls received since November related to day-to-day farming issues, including SFP/Basic Payment; RDP farm schemes; GLAS; credit cases; FBD voucher and other benefits; branch AGM/election meetings and other day-to-day issues. A total of 1,132 (3.7%) calls carried comments and complaints regarding the events in November. Members who initially called to cancel, and then decided to retain their membership until their next renewal date, gave the following reasons:
On non-voting members, Jer Bergin said there were an additional 4,000 members who are overdue and an active programme is underway to make contact with and re-sign these people, “which is a regular part of our membership work”. He said Countryside members, associate members, and other non-fully paid-up members make up a further 4,000. Normal activity around the renewal process i.e. membership canvassing & development, issuing of membership cards, membership guides, renewals correspondence etc. recommenced in December/January.
The presentation also revealed that EIF (European Involvement Fund) Levy contributions, through its 200 levy collecting partners across all sectors, totalled over €4.7m to IFA in 2015. The fund was introduced by the association in the 1970s to help fund its staff presence and campaigns at EU level and more recently the fund has been referred to as providing “the professional back-up required to support elected voluntary officers in defending the €1.5 billion paid to Irish farmers in direct supports”.
In concluding the report it was stated that “Due to a number of factors (time lag, frequency of payment, change in market prices etc) it will take some time to establish an accurate picture of the impact on the levy income. Our forecast to the end of March 2016 suggests a decrease of 12% in net levy (including refunds). The fall in commodity prices across most farm enterprises and changes in volume have had an impact here also. Approximately 300 refund submissions have been received since November totalling. Due to the voluntary nature of the levy, there have always been challenges in preventing fallout/non-payment. The system relies on the support of farmers to contribute to the resources of IFA and the long-standing partnerships that we have established with the outlets to maintain collection levels. We have undertaken to meet all levy partners and a number matters are being discussed: