4 IFA presidential debates this week as election approaches

This week, the Irish Farmers’ Association’s (IFA) presidential and deputy presidential candidates will take part in a total of four debates.

The three presidential candidates – John Coughlan, Tim Cullinan and Angus Woods – and the two deputy presidential candidates – Thomas Cooney and Brian Rushe – have taken part in a total of nine debates nationwide and have eight more remaining before the IFA members cast their votes.

This week will see debates take place in the home counties of two of the candidates – Brian Rushe (Kildare) and Tim Cullinan (Tipperary).

The following debates will be taking place this week:
  • Meath/Dublin: Newgrange Hotel, Navan, tonight, Monday, November 11;
  • Offaly/Kildare/Laois: Tullamore Court Hotel, Tullamore, Tuesday, November 12;
  • Wexford/Wicklow: Riverside Hotel, Enniscorthy, Wednesday, November 13;
  • North and south Tipperary: Horse and Jockey, Cashel, Thursday, November 14.

Candidates have been quizzed on a range of issues affecting agriculture in the debates so far including splinter groups, beef imports and the ongoing dairy calf issue.

All debates will begin at 8:00pm.

Recent protests

At the most recent debate in Mullingar, the presidential candidates were quizzed on the recent beef protests and the subsequent backlog of cattle to be killed.

Commenting on the issue, Woods said that the impact of the blockades is “not surprising”, adding that at the time the EU beef price was “in turmoil”; he noted that it was decided that protesting was “the wrong thing to do at the wrong time for the majority of our membership”, particularly with Brexit still on course for November 1.

“It’s going to take a significant period of time to clear that backlog,” he added.

Coughlan said that the key question is “how do we move forward from where we are?” He stressed that the Beef Market Taskforce needs to be held – and fast.

If we are not around the table we’re going to be in the very same situation; it doesn’t matter if it’s two months’ time, six months’ time or 12 months’ time.

He added: “I think Bord Bia should be in Europe big time, pushing new markets and better sales, because Europe is our best market and the European market is decreasing.

Consumption is decreasing and there is nothing being done to maintain that European market.

Cullinan said that, in the pig sector, protesting was a useful tool previously, adding that the protests were held from “pure desperation”.

“We need to look at what’s happening in the marketplace at the minute; in China there are 25 million tonnes of pigmeat that has had to be destroyed. There is one million tonnes of pigmeat gone into China this year already.”