President elect of the Irish Farmers’ Association (IFA) Tim Cullinan has said his election was a “strong mandate from IFA members to sharpen up the organisation to deal with the many serious challenges facing farmers”.

The Tipperary farmer said that the four years of his presidency are among the “most critical ever faced by farmers” and that there’s an obligation on all to work together to turn the situation around.

Addressing a large gathering at the Castleknock Hotel at the end of a cliff-hanger election count, Cullinan said:

There was never a greater need for farmers to pull together and face down the unprecedented challenges facing the industry today.

“From the outset I offered myself as a candidate for change and farmers have responded,” the president elect said.

“I want to assure all who voted for me and those who voted for the other candidates that IFA will be fiercely on your side with only one objective, to deliver results for farmers.

“Agriculture is a mainstay of the Irish economy and one with a celebrated international reputation. Our IFA members and all other farmers across the country are the ones who are responsible for this.

Making sure they get their fair share of income, irrespective of what that takes, will be the focus of my presidency. That will mean, as my campaign slogan ran, putting the fight back into farming.

Cullinan said that the priority for the first month of his presidency will be to address the beef crisis.

“This issue is by no means done. This crisis is going on for a year and a half – and factories have to realise if they want a beef industry in Ireland, they will have to pay for it.”

Other priorities, he said, would be developing a general election programme with the IFA’s demands, CAP reform, the CAP budget and environmental restrictions.

Image source: Finbarr O’Rourke

Cullinan thanked his own campaign team and everyone who voted for him across the country.

“I have had an incredible campaign team that helped me get from a standing start in this election, from being the absolute underdog to become the next president of the IFA.

That is their achievement. It is also an achievement that very much states that our members want change – and they will get change.

The president elect thanked his supported for working tirelessly to ensure what he stands for was brought to the electorate.

“I intend to represent all farmers, to do whatever is necessary to unify farmers as what we have seen of late is that the only winners when farmers are divided are the very ones we are fighting against.

“We must unite in whatever way we can to bring a single voice to all those who have their hands in farmers’ pockets and say that enough is enough,” Cullinan concluded.