IFA recorded €1.4 million operating loss over the last year

The Irish Farmers’ Association (IFA) recorded a €1.4 million loss between 2016 and 2017, according to the association’s latest annual report.

For the year ending March 31, 2017, a total income of €16,199,650 was recorded, compared to a total income of €18,977,049 for the previous year. After expenditure, a deficit of €1,439,572 was recorded on the books for last year.

The report shows that IFA income is generated from a variety of business sources, including: broadband and phone services sales; affiliation fees; European involvement fund levies; trust fund contributions; investment dividend income; and other income.

According to the report, the biggest hit to income came from a drop in European involvement fund levies – down from approximately €4 million in 2016, to almost €3 million last year.

Trust fund contributions – which includes a contribution from FBD Insurance – also slipped from just over €1 million in 2016, to less than €380,000 in 2017.

Income generated from IFA membership fees also fell slightly – from €5.9 million in 2016, to €5.7 million for the year ending March 31 2017.

Speaking at the association’s AGM at the Irish Farm Centre today, IFA president Joe Healy acknowledged that – financially – this was “a challenging year for the IFA”.

“Farmers continue to support us and this is evident in our membership figures holding up. For the IFA to be able to do our work effectively, we need all farmers to be making a full contribution to the association.

“Many farmers pay membership and levies to IFA, and contribute huge amounts of their time to work on behalf of their fellow farmers.

Not all farmers can give their time; but, I would ask all farmers to support the association by paying their levies. It is fair and proportionate and represents a contribution of just €1.50 in every €1,000 of sales.

He stressed that IFA needs to be “properly resourced by farmers”, so it can operate without fear or favour.

Balancing books

During 2018, the association will put a three-year plan in place to close the current deficit and return to a balanced outcome over the next three years.

Healy said this will involve a combination of “rebuilding our income and reducing costs“.

When asked if there would be any reduction in jobs, salaries or pensions, Healy said any moves on reducing costs would be “well planned and well thought out”.

“A lot of work has been done in the last year and that will continue. The idea of going over three years was to give us an opportunity to plan, so that it wouldn’t just start off with maybe job cuts.

IFA is like a farm business; we have a reserve there to try and account for the difficult years; you dip into that and you replenish it in the better years and that is what we’re doing.

“Membership has held very strong right throughout this and our plan is to ensure that we get our levies and income streams back up and – at all times – we are looking at out-goings in the organisations.

“But as of now there is no-one looking at redundancies or anything of that nature,” he said.

IFA director general Damian McDonald reiterated this sentiment.

“There is a structured plan over three years. Obviously, the accounts published today are to March 2017, that is just the nature of the financial year of the IFA and I think looking at the first six or seven months of the trading year since then we are well on target for the three-year plan.

We are looking at everything; but, the primary thing is that the association has a job to do and the priority is that we are sufficiently resourced to do it.