Following on from Joe Healy election as IFA President and Richard Kennedy as Deputy President a number of National Committees met during the week to elect their new Chairpersons.
Angus Woods from County Wicklow was elected as the new Chairman of the IFA National Livestock Committee. Speaking following his election, he said his main priority will be tackling the difficult income problem in livestock farming. He said “strong viable cattle prices and active competition are essential for the beef sector and also emphasised the importance of direct payments to the incomes of livestock farmers and maintaining a strong CAP, with a strong budget.
He also said he was very clear that the incomes of livestock farmers must improve adding that cattle prices, currently at a base of €4.00/kg, need to increase as they are well below the costs of production for winter finishers.
Oranmore dairy farmer John Finn was elected as the new Chairman of the IFA National Liquid Milk Committee. He was Chairman of the Arrabawn Liquid Milk Producer Group between 2004 and 2014, and in this position was involved in price negotiations with Arrabawn on behalf of fellow-producers.
Speaking after his election he said “As incoming Chairman, I want to lead milk producer groups from all around the country in a united fight to ensure cut-throat competition between dairies and retailers is not allowed to erode the milk price that specialist farmers need to remunerate their higher production costs.
The Committee has established that the cost of producing a litre of fresh milk and to pay a modest wage to the producer comes to around 40c/l. In the last 12 months, our annualised prices have averaged out only 30 to 31c/l, and this despite the fact that the retail returns for fresh milk, unlike global dairy markets, have remained very stable,” he said.
Joe Brady from County Cavan is the new Chair of the IFA National Rural Development Committee. In his introductory address he pointed out that his key priorities will be achieving further amendments to the Rural Development Programme, the early opening of GLAS to ensure 50,000 farmers are in the scheme from 1st January 2017, and getting the Targeted Output Scheme up and running in 2016.
In relation to the ANC review, he said the priority will be to ensure that the payments under the scheme make a more significant contribution to farm income, through the restoration of losses arising out of cuts in Budget 2008.
He also pointed out that vital income support schemes such as Farm Assist need to be improved, and the number of places on the Rural Social Scheme must be increased.
Securing timely payments across all schemes through the Charter of Rights will also be a major priority for the new Chairman.
At a meeting of the IFA National Farm Business Committee Martin Stapleton from County Limerick was elected Chairman.
Mr Stapleton identified that an immediate issue in his chairmanship are the serious cashflow challenges facing farmers across almost all sectors. He said, ‘I will be engaging as a matter or priority with the financial institutions and other credit providers to ensure that short-term and flexible financing options are provided to farmers, and, importantly, that the banks make farmers aware of these options.”
He added, “IFA will run a strong information campaign on farm finances during 2016, including meetings, media briefings and documentation. In addition, IFA will continue to support farmers facing credit difficulties, and I urge anyone who is under pressure, to look for assistance as early as possible”.