In his inaugural address as leader of the Irish Farmers Association (IFA) Eddie Downey outlined the team that will work with him over the next four years.

New deputy president Tim O’Leary will have specific responsibilities for the direct payments, the protocol project team, Teagasc discussion groups and spokesman for IFA countryside.

In a new structure for the IFA, there are four regional chairman and James McCarthy in Munster will also head up the inputs project team.

Tom Turley will chair the special areas of conservation (SAC) project team and will also assume responsibility for waterway management and flood prevention.

James Murphy, chairman in south Leinster, will head up the renewables and alternative land use project team. Ulster/North Leinster chairman Bert Stewart will chair the animal health project team.

In his speech, Downey stressed the importance of his new Charter of Rights designed to remove the fear surrounding inspections.

Speaking to the press afterwards he said: “The main issue is unannounced inspections.”

He stressed: “The situation with inspectors just driving into the yard unannounced. The fear factor associated with that is anonymous. It’s unacceptable.”

“It’s not just here it’s all over Europe and this is a problem.”

Downey outlined that he met with the head of inspections in Europe and he was quite willing to look at this whole area and there is a flexibility there that he can explore.

He added: “The key to this whole area is the yellow card system. Where the inspector would come in and say to the farmer you have a couple of weeks to get something right.”

“This covers both the inspector and the farmer,” he said.

Addressing public concerns in this area, he said:”We understand inspections are required, we want to meet the standards as long as the standards are reasonable and fair.

“We have the best traceability system in the world we have the best food safety in the world. I have no fear that we are not doing our job well.”

Downey also commented on the ongoing controversy surrounding the bull beef sector. He described the actions of the factories as “totally disingenuous”.

He commented: “Two years ago they were out there running around the country encouraging farmers to hold those Friesian bull calves.”

“We will get a market for them. They talked farmers into this business and when the animals were ready two years down the road they pulled the price. That’s unacceptable.  When they promote something like that, they have to stand by the people that invested in it.”