Irish co-op leaders set to gather to plan and safeguard for the future

The Irish Co-operative Organisation Society (ICOS) will be holding the 41st ICOS National Conference tomorrow (Tuesday, January 9) at Devere Hall, UCC, Cork.

At the event, the leaders of Ireland’s co-operatives – including dairy processors and national livestock marts – will gather to discuss strategies for the future success of the industry in an increasingly competitive global environment, according to ICOS.

The conference will investigate the policy environment likely to influence future global conditions. It will also examine the measures co-operatives can take to grow and develop their businesses to ensure long-term, sustainable growth and development.

The conference is being run by ICOS in conjunction with the Plunkett Institute and this year’s heading will be: “Future Proofing Your Co-op”.

There will be three panel discussions on the day, while the facilitator for the event’s discussions will be RTE News southern editor Paschal Sheehy.

Following registration of co-op delegates, the conference’s opening address will be given by ICOS president Martin Keane. After this, UCC president Prof. Pat O’Shea will welcome attendees to the university. A talk will then be given by Prof. Paul Ross on “UCC and the Food Industry”.

According to the organisation’s president Martin Keane, who has a column in today’s Irish Examiner on the matter: “Irish farmers and co-operatives are facing unprecedented challenges in the coming years as a result of Brexit, climate change and global market volatility. Under any Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) reforms, market supports and risk management measures will be necessary to protect against this volatility.”

The first panel discussion of the day – entitled “The New CAP – What does it need to deliver?” – will feature Dr. Trevor Donnellan of Teagasc as the presenter, while the panel will consist of: Jim Mulhern, president and CEO of National Milk Producers Federation; Brigitte Misonne, DG Agri; Peter Farrell, farmer and Nuffield scholar; and John Higgins, managing partner of EY Cork.

Following this, the second panel discussion – “Generational Renewal – Who’ll lead our co-ops in 2038?” – will kick off. This panel will include: Damian Lacombe, chairman of Sodiaal Co-op; James Healy, national president of Macra na Feirme; Billy Goodburn, head of learning and development at ICOS Skillnet; and Paidi Kelly, People in Dairy Project, Teagasc.

The third panel, “Compliance – What’s coming down the track?“, will feature: James Doyle, legal and governance executive with ICOS; Hazel Sheridan, Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine; Thomas Magnusson, COGECA and Lantmann; and Donnchadh O’Mordha, senior investment advisor at Davy’s.

In conclusion, a closing address will be given by the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Michael Creed. Stay tuned to AgriLand for updates on this event.