Following a meeting of the Irish Cooperative Organisation Society (ICOS) board, Jerry Long has been elected as president, succeeding Michael Spellman who has completed his term of office.

At the same meeting, James O’Donnell – who represents the National Co-operative Farm Relief Services and is a dairy farmer in Golden, Co. Tipperary, supplying Dairygold Co-op – was re-elected vice-president.

Taking up his role immediately, Long, from The Ragg, Co. Tipperary, is a dairy farmer and milk supplier to Drombane Co-operative. He has been chairman of the ICOS Dairy Committee since 2015.

Following his election, Long said: “My strong focus and that of our organisation will be to work to help co-operatives to further develop the resilience of their businesses.

The environment will, quite rightly, be a huge focus from now on, but in parallel, we need to ensure that our model of farming and food production is resilient and sustainable for the benefit of farm families and rural communities.

“The dramatic increase in milk production, with over €200 million in additional income for rural areas every year since 2015, has been hugely positive for rural communities.”

The new president said ICOS must now focus on making the next phase of that expansion fully sustainable and resilient.

“We also need to address the complete imbalance in fortunes between the dairy sector and the livestock sector, which is falling further behind every year,” he added.

Long said that ICOS is committed to supporting the livestock sector, through its marts, farm support co-operatives, and through lobbying and representation at home and in Europe.

We will campaign to deliver a model, supported by a well-funded CAP, that allows drystock farmers to capitalise on opportunities to deliver quality beef and lamb production, while being fully rewarded for their substantial services to the environment and the food supply chain.

“I look forward to working with the board, members, CEO and executive of ICOS to continue the evolution and progress of our co-operative movement which this year marks 125 years of co-operative enterprise,” Long concluded.