IFA elects new Rural Development Committee chairman

Michael Biggins has been elected as the new chairman of the Irish Farmers’ Association (IFA) National Rural Development Committee.

Elected at a meeting in Dublin yesterday, Thursday, January 16, Biggins takes over from outgoing chairman Joe Brady, who has held the position for the past four years.

He will take up his position at the IFA annual general meeting on Monday, January 27.

A suckler beef farmer from Glencorrib in south Mayo, Biggins has been involved in the IFA for over 20 years and has served as Mayo county chairman, vice chairman of the Livestock Committee, the chairman of South Mayo LEADER and other community groups.

Speaking after his election, Biggins said the challenges facing rural Ireland are immense and having a strongly-funded CAP and national supports were never more in need.

He said farm schemes play a huge role in supporting farm incomes as well as the wider economic spinoff to the rural community.

Biggins said the next minister for agriculture and the new European Commissioner for Agriculture Janus Wojciechowski “must be prepared to stand up and fearlessly defend the Irish and European the family farm model which is so vital to sustaining rural Ireland”.

The Mayo farmer’s key priorities for the Rural Development Committee will be:
  • Enhancing farm schemes in the next Rural Development Plan (RDP) so that they have a greater impact in supporting farm incomes;
  • Restoring agri – environmental schemes to a level which existed under REPS with an overall payment of €10,000;
  • Continuing on progress made on Areas of Natural Constraint (ANC) payment increases over the past two years and to increase payments by 20% in the next RDP;
  • Ensuring greater support for inter-generational transfers by having increased young farmer payments and incentives for older farmers to retire;
  • The continuation of a well-supported farm investment TAMS scheme with higher grant aid;
  • Reducing the beauracracy attached to many schemes with the introduction of a yellow card system to allow farmers rectify any issues found on Department inspections.

Biggins and the IFA National Rural Development Committee thanked the outgoing chairman Joe Brady for effective delivery for farmers in negotiations with Government and the EU.

In particular, he cited the protection of the ANC scheme in the EU wide review, which is vital achievement for 100,000 farmers on marginal land.