IFA members in the Ulster/North Leinster region will be going to the polls over the coming weeks to elect a new chairperson for the area.

This is the only election that will take place in IFA this time around, as all other regional chairs, as well as the current national president and deputy president, were the only candidates nominated in their respective races and were thus returned unopposed.

Two candidates are in the running for the Ulster/North Leinster chairmanship: Frank Brady, former chairperson of Monaghan IFA; and John Curran, the current chairperson of Meath IFA.

Agriland spoke to both candidates to get their views on the main issues in agriculture at the moment, and what their priorities would be if elected.

In this article, we meet Frank Brady. For our article on John Curran, click here.

Brady is originally from Glenamaddy, Co. Galway. He is a commercial pig farmer (“and I intend to stay that way”) in Co. Monaghan, where he lives with his wife and four children. His farm also takes in part of Co. Cavan.

One of his main aims, he says, is attracting young farmers into IFA.

“I will be trying to get the young people coming back into IFA, and give them reasons to come back, rather than reason to go. I’d like to build a platform where we can do more on social media and all media and put out our good news stories,” Brady highlighted.

He also noted that the Ulster/North Leinster region of the IFA is understaffed at present, something that he is looking to address.

According to Brady, rural Ireland is being neglected, with developments like broadband “on the second foot”.

The former Monaghan county chair also claims that the rhetoric around farmers and climate change is wrong.

“They talk about the carbon footprint and what farmers are doing [but] farmers are doing a lot less to the carbon footprint than other sectors… In the last 30 years cattle numbers are down, but car numbers are up and air passenger numbers are up, and they say cows are the problem,” he said.

“Cows ain’t the problem. No [type of] livestock is the problem.”

He highlighted the notable drop in emissions at the start of the Covid-19 pandemic due to the decrease in car numbers and air travel.

Brady went on to argue that cars are “necessary in rural Ireland until we have a proper structure [for public transport] but we don’t have that because we are a forgotten people”.

“Instead of having us live in towns, they should concentrate on rural Ireland and make it easier and more viable for people to work from home,” he added.

“If a farmer’s daughter or son wants a site on their land, they shouldn’t have to go through hoops to get it. We’re not asking to build up rural Ireland. We’re asking to keep it going, so you can get a site that can be operational and fit for purpose and you can get planning permission.”

Brady called for farmers to be allowed play a part in addressing climate change. This, he added, was something that could be done “with help from the Greens, rather than by the Greens attacking us”.

He called for proper funding for low emission slurry spreading (LESS) equipment and GPS fertiliser spreaders so “that they are viable and farmers will see the benefit of them and they’ll save money”.

On the issue of prices paid to farmers, Brady argued: “We talk of the price of lambs being very high. It’s not very high. It’s where it should be, and the price of beef should be €5/kg.”

He stressed: “We need everyone singing from the same hymn sheet, which is everybody getting a margin. Everybody should be getting a margin for the produce they sell.”