‘Irish farming has always delivered’: Coughlan declares IFA candidacy

A new candidate has thrown his hat into the ring to become the next president of the Irish Farmers’ Association (IFA) in the form of IFA Munster regional chairman John Coughlan.

A dairy and beef farmer from Buttevant, in north Co. Cork, Coughlan has been a member of the farmer organisation for 25 years and has served in a variety of roles including as county chairman.

In a North Cork IFA meeting last night, Monday, September 9, Coughlan announced his intention to run for president, seeking his county’s nomination.

Addressing gathered farmers at the meeting, the chairman outlined his key priorities, which include:
  • The restoration of farm income by returning prices higher than production costs;
  • Delivering Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) reform that secures a viable income for family farms;
  • Ensuring farmers do not carry the burden or costs of climate change measures; and
  • Health and welfare of the farm family as a central priority.

Declaring his candidacy, Coughlan said: “Irish farming has always delivered for the Irish Exchequer. It was the shining beacon during the recent recession.

“As farmers, we now find ourselves in a serious income crisis.

“Government initiatives like Harvest 2020, Foodwise 2025 and agricultural sustainability must start with farmer income.”

The Munster chairman attributed the income crisis to a combination of factors, namely: a cheap food policy in Europe; a lack of transparency in processor pricing; a diminishing CAP payment; and “profit-taking by every other link in the food and business chain – except the farmer”.

“This must finally change; it will be my mission as president to ensure that it does,” the Cork farmer asserted.

Continuing, Coughlan said: “My experience in Brussels has shown me the enormity of the challenges in opening doors to influence policy that delivers for farmers.

“I have a track record of delivery in Europe. I reduced anti-dumping duties on AN fertiliser by 30% which is worth over €20 million per year to Irish farmers.

The EU is our most important market, that is where our major battles will be in the future.

Turning to the topic of climate action, Coughlan noted that environmental challenges will be “costly to rectify”, but stressed that these “cannot be borne by farmers”.

“Our Government must recognise this and deliver adequate reward that will be meaningful for farmers. Farmers are prepared to look at all options, but they must be financially viable – unlike past fiascos like miscanthus and willow.”

Coughlan said he would put farm family welfare at the centre of his presidency “as the farm family is carrying the pressure of all the work, regulations, red tape, income loss and labour shortage”.

“Through my knowledge of farming, my understanding of the European institutions and the energy and passion that I bring to this work, I will fight tooth and nail to deliver an income for farmers,” Coughlan said.