Live: IFA Election debate from Carlow

11:44 PM

This has to be the most attentive (read: only about 10 made an early bee line for the coffee!) yet. Well done to Carlow for hosting a good night.

11:42 PM

Joe healy in his wrap up says the organisation need a President that can handle everyone from the Government to media and everyone in between, and to ensure farmers have the best advice. “if you think back on all the questions tonight you will realise who is the best person to deal with all those issues”.

Henry – we have a big decision to make as IFA members. We have huge tasks ahead. I have worked tirelessly within this organisation and when the going gets tough I have stood up . You need to look at records. Be careful when you are choosing your IFA Presidents, don’t base it on any one remark, check the records. Remember it will be IFA and farmers we are leading and the experience will be critical. IFA President – you don’t; train on the job, I have the trench work and my record is open. I am an open book, check me out before you make your decision, you have nothing to fear.”

Flor – the two biggest issues are to unite this organisation and incomes. he says he has delivered on both. I can deliver across all the commodities. I have dealt with the big players and I will deliver on behalf on farmers.

11:36 PM

I think we’re on the last question. Shane Carroll has the honour….and he got to ask some questions that received no answers..!

11:26 PM

Land tax…

Henry – we’ll resist it all the way

Flor – that’s an absolute no

Joe – it’s better to have a tax problem than an income problem, and I would absolutely be totally opposed to land tax

11:23 PM

Henry Burns wants to go back to payments being linked to production…so money can be justified.

11:20 PM

Question for Healy….Ciolos proposals on redistribution of payments from east to west

Joe – I didn’t agree with flattening of payments. It’s not an east/west thing. There are big and small farmers in each county. A high payment per ha and a high payment per farm. Some of those farmers did nothing to help the locality to bring them up too. Supports have to be towards the active farmer who is working.

11:16 PM

Flor says the records of council that day – he says Henry said afterwards he said Henry was not in favour of the motion…ok the row has moved on but it seems someone needs to get those minutes!!!

11:16 PM

Henry – Flor failed to support the first vote on the beef crisis in 2014 – that was his mandate

11:15 PM

Henry – there was a motion from Laois, wrapped around the beef issue, that was changed into a motion of no confidence on the day (jan 2015) and he abstained from the vote (of no confidecne of Pat smith) but he did not speak in favour of the general secretary

11:14 PM

Flor and Henry are having a stand off on stage…Henry is going to correct the record…

11:14 PM

What is more expensive a card or cheque???

Joe – if people won’t use the card then you have no choice, then you have no choice but to use a cheque.

Livestock chairman for Carlow –  re cards in a local mart – they wanted to charge a 2.5% commission when buying €5,000 worth of cattle must come at a reduced cost. 2015 was one of the most difficult years for farmers – the 29 member committee said they’d draw the Minister into a row and the Beef Forum was set up and the one thing demand was a single base price irrelevant of age, weight or breed…and I can’t understand why Joe is so negative about the forum… we had to beg to go to the gates of factories, the then General Secretary did not want to listen to us. We were dragged off the gates. ICMSA getting some kudos here – they want to see the differential between 0 and R/U grades narrowed. Science should pay for our stock…

When the grid was brought in there was 7% U- or better and now there is 11%. The grid was to improve the payment to good quality cattle. The majority of good continental animals kill out at 420kg+ and I’m not happy that those people are discriminated against them. I am not happy that the grid is working against them.

Henry – IFA is the only ones saying that the weight issue is does disadvantage the good cattle. The grid is about one base price and the ups and downs of the science. We are arguing against the grid every day.

Flor – tells Henry to shut up…who interrupted him…the motion…Flor accuses Henry of backing the then General Secretary on livestock issues..

10:59 PM

What boards are the three sitting on…. and will they sit on the board of FBD?

Henry – the boards I sit on come with the Livestock Committee role – ICBF, Farm animal welfare council, 3 committees in Bord bia which is paid @ €5,800. It is recommended that any board payments go back to the association and you claim your ordinary expenses. Also chairman of european beef, sheep pig and poultry board which has no payment.

Flor – sits on no boards and it needs to be known how anyone is appointed, who put them there and how long they are serving. “I have served on no board”.

Joe – told Agriland I was on the Farm Business Development Co–op board and I have stated that the President of IFA should not be the rep on the IFA board. It’s an onerous task and the President should be busy with IFA work.

10:53 PM

The cost of finance…

Joe – our interest rates are 2% higher than the average across Europe. And the average loan here is 6.58% and in another EU country its 2.8% and that makes it harder to compete. European money at a cheaper rate and if there was less solicitor involvement – it would be good and farmer friendly.

Flor – it;s a massive issue at home that there is only three people to borrow from.

Henry – its a lack of competition that has got us to here. More competition is the key.

10:42 PM

The whole one man one vote….

Flor – it’s a positive

Joe – he;s all for it too

Henry – it’s good and he supports it

10:39 PM

Lorna Sixsmith…not a member anymore but is determined to ask a question and see if it’s worth her while to rejoin and what the organisation will do for women.

Henry – we have gender quotas in politics, but he’s not sure if IFA will go there!!!! All the committees he’s worked has some women. At one stage there was FOUR women on national council (wow). It’s not just about women, it’s also about getting younger people into IFA…the next step he says is to get women in IFA as county chairmen.

Joe – from a personal point of view, he shares a home with his mother, wife and three daughters….

Flor – he’s open to suggestions to encourage more women into IFA positions but admits that ag is a male dominated industry

10:31 PM

I think people are clapping to wake themselves up….while about 20 people have gone straight for the coffee…

10:29 PM


How to follow the IFA presidential debates…on your phone!

10:11 PM

This tillage farmer says he’s had to take a price his father took years ago….and not returning the net income spring barley did years ago…don’t talk to me about knowledge – that we need more knowledge..the result of it we have continental breeds producing carcases that are too heavy and if we can’t produce that weight there is no viability in a suckler herd…if the west can’t produce a good continental animal they have no future.

We introduced all that and now we’re being told its the Hereford and Angus..the little black bull my father had and he didn’t go to school much at all. Make sure you represent farmer and the income we need for a viable and better future.

(farm incomes and efficiencies is the question)

Flor – totally agrees with John (who spoke) we need a price for what we are producing. We want a bigger carcasse for the continental market and the dairy herd can supply the British market. 90% of our beef is exported. We need to take on the three big players (ABP, Kepak and Dawn) and we have to break the cartel.

Henry – there is no industry where you can show more improvement and efficiency than the pig, chicken and beef industries. retailers and processors have stolen the efficiency in the pig industry. It’s a fact that €52m of supports are going out to farmers because IFA did not lie down under Minister Coveney. Its the industry and Bord Bia who are letting down the beef industry.

Joe – I think it’s time we took our heads out of the sand..there is a huge difference between the efficiency in the top third of farmers and the bottom third of farmers in this country, but we need good market returns for our produce. Farmers have constantly strived to improve efficiencies inside farm gate and its based on knowledge.

10:00 PM

The coffee has arrived…this is not good..the first question is only being asked!!!

9:59 PM

Former IFA president John Donnelly (no relation) is here tonight

9:59 PM

The real reason no one is sitting at the front…

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9:41 PM

The candidates and their manifestos….


9:30 PM


9:30 PM

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Really people of Carlow, those seats at the front need you!!!

9:28 PM

Instead of focusing on the presidential candidates speeches (which I suspect everyone is familiar with) we’ll being you a few pics instead…so you can see if you know anyone in the Dolmen Hotel tonight….and gives me a break from typing!!!

And here’s some lovely profiles I did earlier…

9:19 PM

Latest head count from the room puts it at around the 150 now…and the deputy candidates are rounding up now….

Nigel – thanks the room, he appreciates the effort people have went to to come out tonight. He says he’s got farmers united at a time when people are running away from the IFA and asks the room to believe in him to lead farmers into profitability.

Richard – says he’s got the most experience and leadership ability to be the next deputy. “I can’t stand or sit at home and watch our association drift without doing something about it. Don’t ask someone else to so something if you’re not prepared to do it yourself.”

Pat – He’s second generation IFA and says it’s a lucky thing! Family farm incomes will be his focus is voted in and says for some farming is the only income into the house.

9:13 PM

Ok, carbon emissions – that’s a change of theme.

Pat says Thomas Ryan and Harold Kingston are doing great work on smart farming initiative. It’s up to us to make sure agriculure is not the sacrificial lamb.

Nigel – this is a great time for’s an exciting time because with the Government having to meet Kyoto agreements…we can plant marginal land in energy crops. We can get together as farmers and use less productive land for planting and set up energy supply companies with wood chips

Richard – it’s going to become more relevant and we have to use science and get all the information. A lot of forestry, he says, as a carbon sink need to be looked at and supported more.

9:08 PM

Hmmm, the room is packed but no one seems to want to take the microphone and ask a question…

9:08 PM

Ok, while Dan is still not happy, the room has moved on. Shane takes the mic, oh he knows where the ball is…it’s left the stadium he says! The beef price he says is not acceptable and the IFA must do something.

Richard – what can I say only agree…

9:04 PM

Richard says IFA has contributed enormously to him over the years…and Dan is not happy with this ‘answer’. Richard continues…we have benefitted from IFA negotiations. Since the ‘troubles’ (in IFA) he has seen very little to have benefited farmers.

Dan isn’t happy….think someone with a microphone and someone with one shouting at each other….yup, you’ve got it and now the Chairman has intervened…

9:02 PM

Ok Dan Cosgrave has been warned to keep his question short…he’s obviously well known to the Chairman…he says the IFA took its eye off the ball. A smart aleck near me asks ‘where is the ball?’

9:00 PM

So the levies has raised its head again…Pat: it brings in 4.7m to the organisation and says members are not happy with it and he’ll listen to those members. He will commit to sit down and look at it and try to get the same income.

Richard – factory levy as we know it – can’t see a future for it. Unsigned levies especially have brought too much bad attention on IFA. Where will we get the money? We had a great organisation and its based on having the best people possible employed in the association. And good people cost big money.

(BTW it’s night No 10 in Carlow)

Nigel – agrees with Richard that there’s no getting away from the levies. IFA telecom he says (the fixed line business) has 13,000 farmers signed up to it it would bring in more than €5m….and it’s an option

8:54 PM

Richard Kennedy says he sold a lot of cattle in the back end though the marts and they were all quality assured through Bord Bia and it paid him well (the QA) (in response to criticism of Bord Bia)

8:52 PM

Renaghan says that he will withdraw from the race if it can be proved he was not instrumental in getting the biggest increase for poultry farmers in history.

8:47 PM

“It takes the live trade to bring the dead trade to life,” Kennedy says…is this the quote of the night????

8:46 PM

Richard Kennedy on Larry G….It’s unacceptable, he says, that so much power is in the hands of so few people. “No point in talking about live exports in calves if we can’t get paid for them.” He;s got lots of calves at home, but isn’t sure if Nigel (a poultry farmer) does….ouch

8:45 PM

The roving mic has been offered to the room….and no willing takers! Ok, we’ve been saved by a lady in the front row who asks Nigel about his feelings towards Larry Goodman…

Nigel says that before the protest at Slaney the IFA was told it could not be referred to the competition authority, but the solution is to export calves…

8:41 PM

Fair play to Renaghan he’s touching on the malting barley issues – key around this neck of the woods…

8:40 PM

Nigel Renaghan says farmers are the most important part of the food supply chain, he’s focusing on prices and margins tonight. “Why are premium products being dumped on international markets” he asks…

8:36 PM

OMG…I’ve just copped..there are no posters in the room tonight….I was so blinded earlier on! Seemingly a memo went around, a few days ago, to the candidates asking them to refrain from distracting the crowds from the speeches…

8:33 PM

The crowd is definitely over 100….but not much. Mind you that hasn’t stopped people ignoring the empty seats and choosing to stand down the back…

8:32 PM

Richard Kennedy is drawing on his experience and says that’s what’s brought him to this election. He’s a former Macra President and says he’s sorted out the IFA/Macra fund….which returned Macra to profitability…

8:27 PM

As per the other debates, we’ve got the deputy candidates up first, with Pat Farrell saying he’ll be a reforming Deputy, with the pay of all benchmarked. Family farm incomes, he says must be the focus of the organisation. It’s a poor crowd tonight, although there’s a fair few trickling in the back door…seats up the front are not as popular…

8:25 PM

Tonight’s Chairman is George Collier, Carlow’s new Co Chairman….we’ll have to see how the crowd is….this is, after all the home county of Derek Deane, who does not seem to be in the crowd.

8:13 PM

Needless to say tonight’s debate is running on Irish time…ie late starting!

8:12 PM Live: IFA Election debate from Carlow

Tonight we’re bringing you the latest IFA presidential election debate from Carlow on our live blog.

Last night things got a little heated and those here early tonight say that could continue. Early supporters were greeted to an array of bigger and brighter posters from the drive way into the hotel, the lobby, up the stairs and right into the room!