The first of the election debates for the next president and deputy president of the Irish Farmers’ Association (IFA) will take place in Co. Cork next Monday (October 2).

There will be a total of 16 debates which will cover each of the 29 IFA county executives, with the final debate to be held at the end of October in Co. Donegal.

The current IFA national treasurer, Martin Stapleton and the current IFA south Leinster regional chair, Francie Gorman are in the running to become the 17th president of the IFA.

Stapleton has said one of the key issues in his election campaign is to ensure that farmers work together to secure the future of Irish farmers and Irish farming.

Meanwhile, Gorman has said his priority is to ensure Ireland does not transfer its food production business to countries that produce food in “a less sustainable fashion”.

There are also two candidates in the race to become deputy president of IFA – Alice Doyle from Wexford and Pat Murphy from Galway.

Doyle is the first women to contest an IFA presidential or deputy presidential election in the organisation’s history.

Murphy, who is the IFA Connacht regional chair, said the main reason he was contesting the elections was because the IFA leadership needs young full-time farmers and family farmers.

Meanwhile Doyle, who is the organisation’s Farm Family and Social Affairs committee chair, said both the farm and the family are “very important” to the future of rural Ireland and to the economy in Ireland, for its “sustainability and viability”.

IFA debates

Brian Rushe, who is the IFA national returning officer, has encouraged members, farmers and those in the sector to attend one of the debates during October to hear directly from the candidates.

“This will provide the members with an opportunity to assess the two candidates before they decide who to vote for.

“All our branch officers, county officers and national officers are elected by farmers. The president and deputy president of IFA are elected directly by members.

“They are truly representative of farmers and they carry a genuine mandate once elected,” he said.

Debates for the regional chairs will also take place in October, with voting on the night of each debate.

For the first time, members will receive their vote in the post and can either return the vote by post or cast their vote at their branch annual general meeting.

The election count will take place on December 12.