The vice-chair of the Irish Farmers’ Association (IFA) in Kerry has decided to remain in his role despite being frustrated with national leadership in the organisation.

Last week, John Joe Fitzgerald contacted IFA county officers in Kerry to inform them that he was considering stepping down from his position and leaving the association entirely.

The west Kerry sheep farmer has been vice-chair of Kerry IFA since March 2021 and has been a member of the association for over a decade.

Fitzgerald believes that there is a “disconnect” between IFA leadership and farmers on the ground.

He claims that the “top brass” is not addressing the concerns of sheep, beef, suckler and small dairy farmers who are struggling financially due to soaring input costs.

The Kerry vice-chair has suggested that a fertiliser voucher should be made available to support these small farmers who are “hurting” as they cannot access merchant credit similar to previous years.

Kerry IFA meeting

On Friday night (May 27), Kerry IFA county officers spent over three hours discussing the concerns raised by Fitzgerald.

It is understood that the discussion in the room was frank and, at times, heated.

Kerry Animal Health Committee chair Shane McAuliffe said that he shared the frustrations which had been expressed.

He also said he would consider resigning from his position unless senior management in IFA listen to the concerns of farmers on the ground.

The officers agreed to invite the association’s national president Tim Cullinan and director general Damian McDonald to meet with them in Kerry.

Kerry IFA Kenny Jones
Kerry IFA chair Kenny Jones. Image Source: IFA

Kerry IFA chair Kenny Jones confirmed to Agriland that he has extended the invitation and is hopeful of progress on the matter.

Following the meeting, Fitzgerald decided to remain in his role despite his frustration at the slow pace of the association.

“People are depending on me, I don’t want to walk away from it yet,” he told Agriland.

Fitzgerald added that he was looking forward to having “a good discussion” with top management in the association.