The Irish Farmers’ Association (IFA) is defending its position in relation to the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) negotiations amid criticism by some members that it is not trying to “protect” their incomes.

In a statement, the association says its position on CAP reform was developed by the CAP Project Team.

“This followed extensive discussions and engagement with members, including a full round of regional meetings in January,” the statement added.

It was discussed and approved by the elected members of National Council, which is the association’s ruling body, on May 4.

IFA members launch separate CAP campaign

The statement follows the launch of a campaign at Farm Centre in Dublin last week – the headquarters of the IFA – by some rebel IFA members regarding coupled payments in the CAP.

The campaign is being led largely by former deputy president of the IFA Derek Deane, as well as the association’s current Hill Farming Committee chairperson Flor McCarthy.

Deane told Agriland at the launch that 10% of the annual direct payments envelope (Pillar I) could be ringfenced for a coupled payment.

This would amount to around €120 million and Deane said this should be divided into payments for suckler cows (€100 million) and ewes (€20 million).

campaign launch by IFA members farm centre
Flor McCarthy and Derek Deane

The group said they are “disillusioned” with IFA management and that their incomes are not being protected by the farm organisation.

Democracy within IFA

Today, the IFA has said it “will use all reasonable means to defend the reputation of our association, officers and staff, and their families, from any inaccurate, personalised or derogatory comments”.

The statement adds that the IFA is a “democratic” organisation with established structures and that the association welcomes robust policy debate.

“Any member who wishes to make a policy proposal within IFA can do so through their county executive or through a National Committee,” the statement continues.

At the meeting today (Tuesday, June 22), the National Council referred a number of potential breaches of the IFA rules and Code of Conduct, to the National Rules Committee.

CAP negotiations

“The real problem with CAP reform is that the EU expects farmers to do more for less money, in real terms. EU policy makers have tried to distract from this by a host of proposals to redistribute money and divide farmers,” the IFA statement reads.

“IFA’s focus remains on securing the best possible outcome for farmers. We want the government to honour its commitment to provide investment of €1.5 billion for farmers from the carbon tax. This must be targeted at the low-income sectors.”