Fiery questions from floor at IFA presidential debate in Athenry

A crowd of approximately 250 people gathered at the Raheen Woods Hotel in Athenry, Co. Galway, last night, Monday, November 4, to attend the first Irish Farmers’ Association (IFA) presidential debate to take place in Connacht.

The three IFA presidential candidates – John Coughlan, Tim Cullinan and Angus Woods – and the two deputy presidential candidates – Thomas Cooney and Brian Rushe – all put forward their plans to Galway IFA members on what they aim to achieve if elected to office next month.

There were a number of areas which the Galway IFA members pushed the presidential candidates on, including:
  • Bord Bia;
  • Sheep from Northern Ireland;
  • The IFA director general’s salary;
  • Beef protests;
  • Beef imports;
  • Brexit;
  • Fair Deal Scheme.

Speaking to farmers at the meeting, Tim Cullinan proposed that a return to coupled payments should be considered and he suggested figures of €200/suckler cow and €30/ewe.

Commenting on mounting concern surrounding pressure on calf exports for spring 2020, the Co. Tipperary pig farmer and current national treasurer of IFA called on Bord Bia “to provide a €5 million fund” to assist the pending crisis due to the expected deluge of calves from the dairy herd.

North Cork dairy and beef farmer John Coughlan, meanwhile, highlighted to the crowd his concerns over Europe’s cheap food policy, which he described as “a major issue” affecting farm-gate prices.

The current IFA Munster chairman said that if elected, he would campaign for 40% of the Irish Government’s carbon tax to be ring-fenced for agriculture.

Meanwhile, Angus Woods, a sheep, tillage and suckler farmer from Co. Wicklow, told farmers that he believes the EU-Mercosur trade deal can still be curtailed.

The chairman of IFA’s National Livestock Committee told attendees at the meeting that in the past 13 months, the committee “has delivered €160 million” for beef farmers.

The debate came to a close shortly after 11:30pm and the next debate will take place tonight, Tuesday, November 5, in the Travellers Friend Hotel, Castlebar, Co. Mayo.

Stay tuned to AgriLand for more insights from the IFA presidential debates in Athenry, Co. Galway.