LIVE: IFA Election debates from Enniscorthy
That’s all from us here tonight in Wexford, thanks for following our live blog!
Applause for all the candidates as Pat Murray thanks everyone for turning up tonight here in Wexford
‘If you want an IFA that takes on board your challenges you need to vote for me’- Burns
Henry Burns – ‘I’ve not shied away from pressure. We’re here tonight with a big decision to pick a leader to lead this organisation’
‘We need to show leadership. The organisation needs to continually adapt and change so that it’s relevant to its members’ – Healy
Joe Healy is up next and thanks Wexford farmers for the work they did for Galway farmers in the fodder crisis
‘If I’m your President I will not shy back from the factories’ – McCarthy
‘I come with the required experience. I understand the commercial side of the organisation. I have delivered and will leave no stone unturned to deliver on your behalf’ – Flor McCarthy
That’s it from the floor. McCarthy now pitches for the position
Healy says that his sole interest in agriculture, and that he’s no interest and we won’t see him as Taoiseach. When he finishes in IFA he’ll be going back farming, he says
Great to see some people finally tucking into the biscuits at the back of the room!!
On milk supply contracts – they should do it of their own free will and not feel bullied, acc to Healy
Healy in relation to inputs – ‘Fertiliser is case in point. Phil Hogan gave a commitment 12 months ago. There is a cartel in that industry’
McCarthy commits to no involvement in politics after his term – again should he be elected
Hmm are people falling asleep.. or are they on the Agriland app?
‘We have to demand a price for what we’re producing’ – McCarthy
McCarthy on income volatility – a massive issue across the dairy and grain sectors
Burns says he will not take up a political role after his term – should he be elected President.
Burns on farm incomes – ‘We need a plan and part of that plan, we have to look for money in other areas’
Burns on income volatility – ‘If we’re to manage volatility, we have to push to get traction’
We’re having several questions from the floor now
No one has made any move for the tea and biscuits – all focus is on the candidates tonight!
‘The IFA needs to set up a dedicated team that the farmer can talk to before during and after the inspections’ – Healy
Healy on inspections – ‘Around the country inspections are probably coming up more than prices’
Burns on emissions- ‘We need to say to others look how important we are to the country’
‘The pressure on us. On our sons, our daughters. If you look at our farm yards now, they’ve probably never been safer! – Burns
Meanwhile.. the meeting has resumed with Burns speaking about farm safety
Pat Murray at the start of the meeting said questions would be allowed from members of IFA and it appears that he was not a member..
He’s now left the room and the debate is resumed..
He’s being asked to leave the meeting
A person on the floor is addressing the panel and Pat Murray about a letter he sent into IFA
Henry says being IFA President is not a training ground.
There’s also plates of biscuits…
Tea and coffee is being rolled into the back of the room.
‘On CAP – everyday I stood up as livestock chair it was to stop the cut’
Burns – ‘Look. As I said at the start the IFA needs to be less about the I – nothing is achieved on your own’
‘As President of Macra, it and the IFA worked closely during the BSE era’ – Healy
Healy says that in the last three years he has been a member of the farm business committee
He also says he has experienced Brussels and experienced negotiating
McCarthy is up first says he has 30 years in Kerry Co Executive, did 6 years as livestock chair and he has a track record and isn’t afraid to stand over it.
Question up next is what each candidate has done over the past number of years
‘There are other things to consider, such as Macra, which takes a good chunk of the levy.’ – Burns
Burns says that he doesn’t believe any levy should be compulsery.
McCarthy says that he will look at alternatives to the levies such as raising the membership.
McCarthy says that the levy is a major part of IFA income and farmers feel that they pay big wages
‘We need to sit down and come up with an alternative to levies’ – Healy
‘If they’re to stay as they are farmers need transparency’ – Healy
Healy: The levy is 38c/t and 12c is to go to ucd for research and 7c to IFA to promote farm to farm trading. A lot of disquiet out there amongst farmers in relation to levies.
Levies and a way of funding the organisation is up next
‘We cannot let climate change affect our farming. We have to put up a strong argument on behalf of farmers’- McCarthy
On bank charges – ‘We are in trouble because we’ve only 3 main banks at the moment. It’s difficult to argue with a bank on your own’ – McCarthy
McCarthy says that IFA doesn’t decide policy it’s a lobby group – all it can do is lobby
‘We have an advantage on the climate change. We need to ensure that agriculture is not sold out’ – Healy
‘We need to make more use of our Commissioner. We need to put more pressure on our MEPs’ – Healy
Healy is up next. ‘On income – it has to be a priority for any President going forward. We can never take our eye off it.’
Burns on climate change -‘We have to be strong and have to stand up for our economy.’
On bank charges – we need more competition says Burns
Burns is up first – ‘We have an Irish Commissioner who is there with the potential to put some of this stuff down. Brussels has turned inside out in the last 10 years. We’ve to build alliances but we’ve huge connections and we need to use that.’
Councils charging fees, ‘armchair landowners’ and banks overcharging interest are being asked about. Climate change is also being asked about
Now for the debate as questions are asked from the floor here in Wexford
‘We need to take this organisation back to working for farmers. If IFA is to be successful we have to bring the people with us.’- McCarthy
‘We need to listen to the farmers on the ground. I know what it’s like to work with the branches – we need to restructure IFA and it needs to go back representing farmers’ – McCarthy
‘I understand the difficulties facing all farmers in IFA’ – McCarthy
Flor McCarthy is addressing the crowd now
‘The inputs – we need to make sure they come down accordingly.’ – Healy
‘We need an organisation that restores credibility and that word, credibility is crucial. To do this we need structures, that gives power back to the commodity committees and to the county executives’ – Healy
‘Why are we here? Because an unprecedented set of events led to this election that the future of this organisation depends on’ – Healy
Up next is Joe Healy
‘IFA is about boxing above its level’ – Burns
‘There was a failure in the last CAP and no one in the Commission was able to identify what an active farmer was’ – Burns
‘We have a huge problem with incomes, we’ve had a poor Government when it comes to farm incomes. We need a plan coming from the next Minister – whoever he is- on how we’re going to resolve that’ – Burns
Henry Burns is up first and says that he will put his head on the block for farmers
The Deputy President candidates receive a round of applause and the Presidential candidates take to the podium
‘Last November I was distraught – it was not the IFA I knew. We can sit at home and give out about it or I can go and do something about it if given the chance’ – Kennedy
‘I believe I’m worthy without doubt purely by believing in IFA’s slogan. I want to help all farmers regardless of sector’ – Renaghan
Pat Farrell says that farm incomes will be his main priority should he be elected
Closing statements from the Deputy President candidates now
‘I’ve come up with a solution. It was mentioned we should park IFA telecom. There’s 13,000 members in it, if all our members took out a phone through IFA telecom we wouldn’t need to collect it at the factory’ – Renaghan
‘I’m hearing what the members are saying and we have to look at some formula of collecting the money without the levy’ – Farrell
‘Levies have come up as an issue every night of this campaign, particularly in the meat factories. It needs to be taken seriously by the association. As far as I can see the levies cannot continue as they exist at the moment. I’ll have to qualify how that income would be made up [should the levies go]’ – Kennedy
Levies are next up
‘Incomes are critical… at farm level we’ve to question every bill we pay and that the power is not in IFA to deliver these things at the moment’ – Kennedy
Farrell says that IFA has lost its focus and that the IFA needs to get back to basics.
He says that he can’t understand why Irish farmers are getting bottom prices for premium produce.
Renaghan says that fertiliser prices are an issue and that our input prices have gone up
Falling farm incomes and high input prices for farmers are being addressed now
‘We need to get the IFA up and running so we can go and deal with issues like TTIP’ – Kennedy
We’re playing second fiddle when it comes to TTIP, according to Renaghan and that we shouldn’t need to change our standards in order to export beef to the US
On TTIP, Farrell says that we need to look after our own interests
Renaghan says that a lot of work needs to be done on labelling and it needs to be tidied up
On labelling, Kennedy says that there needs to be no false traceability and proper labelling
Kennedy says that a farm manager will be needed for the successful candidate, Farrell says that the pay and expenses issue will be looked at and Renaghan is also in agreement
Expenses its next up on the agenda
Sean Kelly MEP is here in Enniscorthy at tonight’s debate
Renaghan says that he is grassroots and that he’s with the grassroots farmers
Farrell replies saying that the voice of the ordinary farmer hasn’t been listened to and if elected, he will return the association to the grassroots
Kennedy says that anytime a commitment is given it should be upheld and all he can say is that if a commitment was given it should be honoured
Why didn’t IFA get back to the grassroots is up next
Farrell says that the active farmer needs to be rewarded
Kennedy says that he wants to seen greater equality in the next CAP and that we need to put money into active farming
Renaghan says that what farmers need is fair share and proper distribution of funds
Review of the CAP is the next question from the floor
Renaghan agrees with Kennedy saying that this way (29 debates) is a better way than door-to-door
Farrell says that because of the time constraints it was decided that this was the best way – in the past people would canvas for 6 months beforehand but we can’t do that this time due to the time constraints
Next question up is the type of canvassing – Kennedy says that it’s better that there isn’t door-to-door canvassing
Kennedy says that anyone who needs help should get it and that IFA represents all commodities
Renaghan speaks about tillage and said that something immediately needs to be done about the amount of imported grain to make whiskey in the Ireland
Farrell says that all commodity prices need to be looked at for family farm incomes
First question tonight is on IFA representing all commodities ‘from the small king to the big king’
Now there will be questions from the floor
Farrell says how he can see how things have changed over the years and that the voices of ordinary IFA members haven’t been adhered to
A nice crowd in now as Pat Farrell addresses the crowd
Renaghan said his reason for running is simple – farm families and for their fair share
Nigel Renaghan has now taken to the podium
Limerick’s Richard Kennedy is up first and has said that there’s only one issue in this election and that’s to renew the trust in IFA
Pat Murray is addressing the assembled crowd and has said it’s important that there’s a good debate tonight
The Deputy Presidential candidates have taken their seats.
We’ll be underway in a few minutes, Wexford Chairman Pat Murray has called for people to take their seats…
It’s a treasure trove of posters here tonight.
Tonight we’re in Enniscorthy, Co. Wexford for the third week of IFA Election debates.
We’re at the Riverside Park Hotel this evening and we’ll be getting underway around 8.00pm.
Wexford County Chairman Pat Murray will be moderating tonight’s debates and we’ll be bringing you the latest updates from tonights debates.