A clean and crisp launch for Eddie Downey in IFA election race 2013

IFA Elections 2013: Meath farmer Eddie Downey, the current Irish Farmers Association (IFA) deputy president and former National Farm Business Committee chairman, launched his campaign to become the next president of the association in Tayto Park, Co Meath on Saturday. 

The IFA Elections take place later this year, where 85,000 members can cast their vote in 947 branches across Ireland.

Speaking at his campaign launch attended by more than 400 supporters from around the country, Downey said: “The challenges facing farmers and Irish agriculture have never been greater. The overhang from the fodder crisis and inflexibility of our banking sector along with strong input price has led to tighter margins and reduced incomes. Budgetary cuts over the past three years and reduced EU funded schemes are having a detrimental effect on farm incomes. Supermarkets and multiples look to farmers and their suppliers to maintain their margins in a shrinking marketplace.

“But the opportunities for farming and the agriculture sector are real too. Agriculture and the food sector will be key to the country’s economic recovery; global demand for food is growing; the end of quotas will open opportunities for growth in the dairy sector; our agriculture colleges are full with enthusiastic students who are keen to play their part in the future of farming. As IFA president, I will lead farmers and the agriculture industry through this growth phase with strong and proactive initiatives.

“The key challenge for the new IFA president and for the future of Irish agriculture is to meet the challenges and exploit the opportunities. With my experience as IFA deputy president and a track record of more than 15 years of active involvement in IFA at branch, county, national and European level I have the experience, ability, and commitment needed to provide real leadership and get real results for farmers as IFA President.

“I am asking the farming community to support me for IFA President so that I can build on my track record and ensure strong leadership of the Association for the next four years.”

Issues

Downey outlined a number of key issues he plans to focus on over the next number of years if elected IFA president:

  • “Fair prices for farmers – we must insist on transparent pricing on beef, sheep, and pig and poultry meats. On milk farmers need to receive the full returns from the market place as it happens and not to experience a lag, as happened this summer
  • “Protection of farm incomes – viable farm incomes are vital for the future of farming. With the conclusion of Common Agriculture Policy negotiations the Government must now commit to fully match EU Pillar 2 funds to bolster farmers’ incomes. The exchequer gets a multiplier of 1.8 times on every euro that’s invested in rural schemes and this money is spent locally, which is paramount to the rural economy
  • “Cutting costs – the costs of inputs and of red tape and bureaucracy are stifling the future of farming and must be tackled
  • “Credit – the banks must free up credit to support the growth of the farming sector, as deputy president I have called on the Ministers of Agriculture and Finance to make available funding up to €250m at a low interest rates from the European Investment Bank to alleviate the chronic short-term credit problem. In the recent passed I have actively engaged with senior officials at the Department of Finance on this issue. As president I will be pursuing this demand in Europe
  • “Inspections – the stress of inspections on farmers is unacceptable and must be replaced by a system that is fair and proportionate. As president I will insist that a yellow card system is put in place. Duplication of inspection by the Department of Agriculture and county councils must stop. Inspections are the one event that causes most stress in farm families at the moment and this must be reduced urgently.
  • “Improving land access and mobility – leasing needs to be extended and adapted and land must be put in the hand of active producers to reach the government s 20/20 targets
  • “Succession – the process of succession needs to be made easier and more tax efficient to ensure that new young enthusiastic farmers have security of tenure through the succession process, while giving peace of mind to retirees over this period of time
  • “Imports – cheap food imports threaten our incomes and Ireland’s reputation for quality food production.  We must have comprehensive labelling and DNA sourcing of all meat products.
  • “Dealing with the multiples – farmers cannot be the victims in the supermarket wars for market share and profitability. The ‘race to the bottom’ on food prices, threatens the livelihood of liquid milk, pig, poultry, fruit and vegetable producers. The length of credit being sought on perishable foods is nothing short of being corrupt and leaves producers very vulnerable
  • “Government policy – Food Harvest 20/20 sets out the opportunities for the future for the agri-food sector.  IFA must ensure that farming is given all of the policy supports necessary from Government to achieve the 20/20 goals.
  • “Farm Safety and mental health issues- we need renewed efforts and initiatives to raise awareness and make our farms and farmers safer and healthier.”

Downey is current IFA deputy president. He has served as a national officer in key positions in the IFA for more than 15 years, including chairman of Meath IFA, national council representative, chairman of the national inputs committee and chairman of the IFA’s National Farm Business Committee. He is a Director of Teagasc and is serving on EU committees and this spring was the driving force behind IFA’s fodder crisis team sourcing hay and maize in the UK, France and Netherlands.

He farms at Monknewtown, Slane where the primary enterprises are suckling, tillage and broiler breeding. He is married to Mary and has two children Alice and Patrick.

Main picture: IFA deputy president Eddie Downey with supporters and election campaign team from around the country at the launch

Below: IFA deputy president Eddie with economist Jim Power who spoke at the Downey campaign launch

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Related: AgriLand IFA Election News Hub