Changing of the guard in Laois IFA with tributes to outgoing chair

Laois branch of the Irish Farmers’ Association (IFA) saw its new chairman take to the helm in the form of John Fitzpatrick as outgoing chair Francie Gorman steps away following the conclusion of his four-year term.

Laois IFA held its AGM in the Manor Hotel, Abbeyleix, last night, Monday, February 3, at 8:00pm with new IFA president Tim Cullinan present as guest speaker.

Cullinan spoke on a number of aspects, with key themes focusing on: the income crisis in beef farming; the need for farmer unity against numerous threats; organisational reform; the environment and climate change; and Brexit, to name a few.

Gorman, in his address, said: “The two biggest issues we have going forward are: how CAP is funded; and what trading relationship we have with the UK after December 31.

“This is going to be the mother and father of all trade deals and it’s going to impact on our ability to make an income at farm level – probably more than any other single thing.”

John Fitzpatrick, outgoing county vice-chair, was elected unopposed as the new chairman of Laois IFA.

A number of new officers were elected on the night, including: John Fitzpatrick as county chairman; Henry Burns as vice-chairman; Michael Knowles as treasurer; Anne Marie Aird as secretary; James Ramsbottom as assistant secretary; and Joanne Claxton as PRO.

The new officers were announced by Laois IFA president Jim Holland who also paid tribute to the outgoing committee and, in particular, Gorman.

Image source Agriland Laois IFA

“I would like to compliment the committee on the last four years; they all did well but I must say Francie has put his heart and his soul and his time into it,” he said.

He’s really gone above and beyond the call of duty.

A presentation was held for the outgoing chairman to acknowledge his work over the past four years with achievements highlighted including: the organisation of the emergency beef meeting held last year; and the mobilisation of county IFA members for protests such as two bus-loads arranged for the demonstration outside the meeting of the cabinet in Cork.

Taking to the top table, new chairman Fitzpatrick gave a short speech on his initial plans – with tackling the farm income challenge the overriding issue:

“We have to put a big push on farm incomes. The least you deserve is a margin for your produce.

Image source Agriland Laois IFA
L-R: Willie Dolan, IFA regional executive; John Fitzpatrick, Laois IFA chairman; and IFA president Tim Cullinan

“The other thing, and it’s going to be a big issue in the future, is the environment and all about climate change and all this.

I would call on the new minister – whoever they are – to implement a REPS type scheme that would suit all farmers.

“If we get in the maximum amount of farmers, we can do a lot and I would call on the new minister to work with the IFA,” Fitzpatrick stressed.