That’s a wrap so, thanks for tuning in tonight
And we’re on the final wrap up speeches…it’s been a sedate affair in Dublin tonight…Henry says he won’t be reliant on notes and his passion seems to resonate with the crowd here.
Joe brings the focus back to his experience, across a broad range of areas.
Flor the last to wrap up says he has delivered for farmers….
Will the new General Secretary be sourced from inside or outside the organsation?
Will farmers get more subs or a rebalance of the market price?
Flor…the general secretary position will be advertised, and will be on a fixed term contract (but he won’t say anymore)..it will be the most suitable person for the job.
Joe – general secretary decision must be fair and transparent and the best person gets the job, whether they are inside or outside. But if the first round doesn’t find the right person, they must go back again for more interviews.
He says he’d love to say to the EU keep all the subs but give us a market price. But the subsidies are great and he hasn’t refused to take any of them.
Henry says the General Secretary will have a very clear job description of what’s expected. Look far and wide for the right person. Very few countries have unsupported agriculture and regulation on supermarkets are need to ensure a fair price.
Brexit – if the UK leaves the EU – is the final question of the night, what will they do…
Joe says a lively live export trade is needed and if Brexit goes ahead Ireland gets special treatment for individual trade agreements with the UK.
Henry says its too dangerous to even contemplate it might happen. Our Government must encourage it doesn’t happen and we have to be careful that our CAP budget is not attacked to get the UK to stay in. I would be worried the UK could do bilateral deals with south american countries if they leave.
Flor says more pressure must be put on Phil Hogan and not being able to kill Irish cattle in the UK is not acceptable. On Brexit he says it’s a major worry and we hope it won’t happen.
Flor says the legislation on below cost selling but the giving away of food by supermarkets is not ok. They’re lobbying to have an ombudsman put in place to stop below cost selling. Richard Bruton dragged his heels for the last two years on this. We cannot stand for this below cost of production selling
Henry says like it or not there will have to be more protesting. The veg growers are down to small numbers and need the strength of the IFA behind them. We also need the legislation that we need and for the products we export we need the legislation at EU level.
Joe says its not just vegetable growers under pressure. despite some pressure Richard Bruton left the legislation sitting on a shelf for so long. We need legislation with teeth that stands up for the supplier of the product. Greater transparency around supermarkets profits is needed.
John Rodgers from Swords says protesting outside supermarkets is not the future…we’re beggars…a plastic bag costs more than what some supermarkets are selling veg for. None of us want to be protesting, but we have to do it.
Henry says the beef grid did make selling cattle more complicated but it was an attempt to try pay for quality. Before the grid, the people producing the better cattle saw 11c/kg difference between U and O grades, now it’s 30c/kg (roughly). We are pushing for weight limits to be taken away. The present livestock committee is supportive of a payment for quality.
On the Lucey report, it can go further with independent people behind it. The important thing is the truth gets out. I will guarantee the truth will come out.
Milk supply agreements – we have to change that thinking where people feel they are forced into them.
Joe says he visited a farmer who would never give out about the organisation who said it was being let down by your best friend who then kicked you in the guts. The commodity chairs have to drive their sectors, he says, and says the old management committee (scrapped under dowling report) should be returned. The goal posts have moved on the beef side, the grid is dysfunctional and has to be reviewed.
Flor says it it must be established what went wrong before you can right the wrong. All monies have to be transparent coming in and being spent…factories, he says, the three big players have to be tackled. The three are paying the same prices, it’s a cartel he says. New competition law won’t sort it alone and the power of the three must be tackled. Says milk contracts are unacceptable…they only contracts should be forward selling, price and terms are agreed in advance but agreeing to supply contract without an agreement on price should be outlawed.
Jim Scully is a popular man here tonight….his question is about trust in the organisation and he wants to know who is really running the IFA…he refuses to believe that the beef committee came up with the beef grid, Strathroy paying more than Glanbia for milk is a disgrace he says. Con Lucey report, he says, only goes back to 2009…the issues go way back…
And yes the candidates said an awful lot more in their speeches, lots of good points. Crowd remains small though, most chaired filled but few to fill in the first place…
Henry’s speech in a nutshell “I was on the phone organising a protest when everyone was making hay”
Joe’s speech in a nutshell “talk of experience representing farmers? I have 25 years of it”
Flor’s speech in a nutshell “I won’t take shite from anyone”
Here they are…the three presidential candidates…
A number of ‘special advisors’ to the candidates are at tonight’s debate…loitering around the back in one case with a last minute pep talk…?
Best shoes of the entire debate so far go to Niamh…not quite ruby slippers but pretty close!
Nigel says we’re all equal because we are all farmers, it makes not difference if you are in beef, milk, potatoes or vegetables or grain…we just want a margin to feed our families and go about our business, but incomes are going one way. He has bucked the trend, he says and has men here tonight that can verify this.
Richard says the Association is in a very serious position and the trust must be restored with proper corporate governance. Every sector he says should be supported and each should support each other. Trust first then the climate of everyone supporting everyone else
Pat says that he has made a commitment to sit down with the sectors that have left IFA in recent years. He will support all commodity chairman to make sure every commodity gets a rise in farm income…IFA has been focused on selling telephones and not taking care of the farmer on the ground
We’re slow on questions tonight….nope another one from the back. Joe takes the microphone and offers that Chairman Laurence Ward can sit on his knee…Laurence declined the offer.
Anyway, the question is how they will unite all farmers.
Jim Scully puts it down to poor leadership of the IFA to let Bord Bia bring in the bureracy, it’s benefitting factories he says. Poor leadership in IFA means the farmer is not being represented property…
Pat agrees and says that family farm incomes is the most important thing. We have got nothing from the extra €3bn that has been exported in recent years. There not a lot to be made in farming but there’s a lot to be made out of farmers, he says..time to turn the ship around.
Nigel says he was in a position where he wasn’t getting much out of the farm so he joined the IFA. We have got as an organisation distracted but promises to sort it out.
Richard says a quality assurance scheme is necessary from a trade point of view…and he’s getting more for cattle thanks to the quality assurance scheme..Jim disagrees…but Richard says he’s not defending the Bord Bia inspections (they are gone over the top he says) but they are necessary for trade.
Bohernabreena man first up with a question about sheep on the hills, viability of farming and dogs….not an exact question but we’ll see what the response is…
Richard says he’s from Limerick, and references the Burren which saw its stock taken off and then had to put them back on as it was going wild. He thought lessons had been learned and there is no logical case for taking all the sheep off the hills.
Nigel says the hills have to be managed and famers are best placed to do that…he also says that licensing of dogs is as important as microchipping.
Pat says that hill farming is a way of life and it could be lost overnight. Sanctions he says have to be imposed on people who won’t microchip their dogs.
Errr, I didn’t give a rundown of the deputy candidates speeches..sorry…and no sign of any questions from the floor…
Good to see some of the IFA Executive staff here tonight
In the interests of fairness here’s a pic of Kildare man Pat Farrell, who missed the earlier photo opp….
Nigel and Richard clearly hooked on Agriland!!!
Tonight’s debate has a busy room, as Dublin has allowed in campaign posters into the room, but not a huge audience yet…
Tonight’s IFA debate is coming to you from Dublin, where the presidential and deputy candidates will face questions from the floor of the (aptly-named) White House hotel, which is located just off the N2.
There are just seven more debates after tonight’s, a welcome relief for the candidates no doubt, who have been on the road since February 8.