The outcome of a recent review of the IFA funding mechanisms has led to the organisation accepting that the principles currently in place should be retained for the future.

The work was undertaken against the backdrop of the farm lobby group facing a significant fall in total income.

Currently, membership subscriptions are less than €100 per annum. While receipts from the European Involvement Fund (EIF), which is voluntary in nature and set as 0.15% of farm sales, currently total €4.7m on an annual basis.

IFA income has come under increasing pressure recently and it is projected to fall by 12% during the year ending March 2016 and the decision by the ABP Group to stop collecting levies will see the IFA’s income drop by a further €250,000/annum.

The IFA’s Lucy Committee recommended that the current funding structures being totally fit for purpose. In essence, they are believed to be fair in nature and do not discriminate between the different sectors.

However, the IFA’s implementation committee made a number of further recommendations with the aim of making the procedures more transparent.

Specifically, the IFA will introduce a standard written contract of service provision with all levy collection outlets.

These will include standard administration for collection outlets, an annual certificate of levy collected and a clear outlet clause for farmers not wishing to participate in the scheme.

Amongst the other financing options looked at were the imposition of a levy on cattle ear tags and a significant hike in membership fees with income sourced solely by this measure.

The first of these options was deemed to be unfair, given that the sole burden of financing would rest on the shoulders of farmers with breeding cows while the hike in membership fees would discriminate against smaller farmers.

Following IFA’s decision to suspend levy collection by ABP, consideration was given to discontinuing levy collection in all meat factories.

This was considered to be inappropriate because it would be unfair on farmers contributing in all other sectors and would also impact on sheep and pig meat levy collection.