IFA Grain Committee ‘is not fit for purpose’ say Cork growers

Over 200 grain growers from Cork have called on IFA President Joe Healy to revamp the the IFA Grain Committee, saying it is not fit for purpose.

At a meeting in Corrin Mart, Fermoy, last night (Thursday), which was attended by over 150 grain growers, a statement was read out on behalf of the 223 Cork Central Grain Growers, calling on the IFA President Joe Healy to revamp what the growers say is an ineffective committee.

Last night’s meeting comes after the 223 growers wrote publicly to IFA in January this year saying the organisation had abandoned tillage farmers and called on the IFA to either represent them fairly or stop collecting membership and levies from them.

On Thursday night, the growers read out a statement to the IFA top table, after what was described by some of those attending as a ‘lengthy’ meeting.

According to one grower at the meeting, the eight speakers at the top table was “blanket defence” by IFA to control the meeting.

They put up the eight speakers to delay growers getting an opportunity to speak.

“The last speaker finished at 10.25 and the meeting was supposed to end at 10pm. Not one person from the floor got an opportunity to speak until then.”

After the speakers finished, the group of 223 growers in south Cork, which were represented on the night by four of its five-man steering committee, read out a statement.

The statement said the growers had lost confidence in the Grain Committee and IFA. It said growers were frustrated with the lack of commitment from the committee and that IFA had failed tillage farmers by not including them in TAMS.

The statement, which was read out by Jerry Donovan, a member of the Cork Growers steering-committee, said the IFA grain committee must be revamped by the IFA President from top to bottom. It also called for a full-time grain secretary to be put in place.

Another of the Cork Central Grain Growers group, Jim O’Regan said while people were delighted that IFA President Joe Healy had attended the meeting, action is needed.

We were delighted that the IFA President Joe Healy attended the meeting and showed such an interest that he stayed way beyond the planned time.

Healy, he said, stayed at the meeting until 11.30, despite having a commitment to travel to Brussels the next morning and listen to the growers.

“However, the Grain Committee of IFA is not fit for purpose and he must do something about it. He must revamp the Grain Committee to ensure it works hard for tillage farmers, in the way the Dairy Committee does for dairy farmers.”

He also said that it is disingenuous and untrue for any of the IFA Grain Committee to claim they were responsible for any TAMS allocation for tillage farmers.

O’Regan said the grain growers have given Joe Healy until August 15 to respond to them with a positive response on how he will revamp the situation.

According to Leonard Draper, who was also at the meeting, “Joe Healy said he had not heard any solutions. But we gave the Grain Committee a five-point plan this year. Obviously it has not got back to him.”

IFA Response

In a statement today, IFA President Joe Healy said Irish grain growers have the full support of IFA and the organisation is pressing hard to secure political action and progress on a number of key issues.

He also said that the the statement that the Grain Committee is not fit for purpose “would not at all reflect the view of the meeting”.

He said there was a full response to all questions raised and a commitment to increasing communications with growers.

The President emphasised that contrary to some people’s views, cheap grain on international markets actually placed Irish dairy farmers at a competitive disadvantage.

He said that many sectors including grain and dairy have prices below the cost of production and all sectors are being strongly represented by IFA in lobbying TDs, Minister Creed and other Ministers, the Department, MEPs and Commissioner Hogan.

The President pointed out that IFA had lobbied successfully to extend the approval of glyphosate. He said the Association was the first farm organisation in Europe to tackle the fertiliser industry, which has already led to the price of CAN falling below €200 for the first time since 2009.

In addition, he said, the IFA Grain Committee has produced an all Irish grain formulation which is to be launched by Minister Creed at Tuesday’s Council meeting.

He also said that there were no issues raised at the meeting which IFA is not already tackling.

In conclusion, the President pointed out that Grain Committee meetings had started with co-ops, merchants and importers, and IFA was determined to fight a strong harvest campaign to maximise grain prices paid to growers and to continue to work hard to deliver on all other issues affecting the tillage sector.

He said, growers are understandably frustrated, with grain prices failing to cover production costs for the fourth successive year.

He also said that the organisation has begun a series of meetings with merchants and co-ops.