The two candidates who are in the running to be the next president of the Irish Farmers’ Association (IFA), Martin Stapleton¬†and Francie Gorman have both said that decisions will have to be made in the short-term in relation to the organisation’s finances.

Both candidates told Agriland that it is important that the next president of the IFA addresses how the organisation will be financed in the future but they are split on what role the organisation’s headquarters, the Irish Farm Centre in Dublin, should play in the long term.

According to Stapleton, the current IFA National Treasurer and a dairy farmer from Oola, Co. Limerick, the IFA’s balance sheet is in a “strong position”.

“At this moment in time we have a difficulty around inflation and the way costs have risen and that’s no different from any other sector of the economy.

“Decisions will have to be made in the coming months about getting that balance right again so that we can bring our expenditure in line with the income that we have from our membership and from our levy and I’ve no doubt that will be done,” Stapleton said.

But his rival in the race to become the next president of the IFA, Gorman, who is the current IFA south Leinster chair and a beef, suckler and sheep farmer from Ballinakill, believes that the organisation’s finances “are very challenged at the moment”.

In Gorman’s opinion the IFA should have been “more proactive” in how they dealt with its finances.

“The issue of finances should have been dealt with much earlier in the year, it will be put on the long foot now until after the election, but it will certainly be in the short term a combination of cost cutting and and a membership increase.

“I think down the road we’ve got to look at how we’re going to finance the association – make sure it’s properly funded so that we can be in a position to represent farmers and do whatever we need to do to get delivery on policy,” Gorman added.

He said in relation to the IFA’s headquarters, the Farm Centre in Bluebell, Dublin, Gorman, believes that there needs to be a discussion around the future role it will play.

“I would always like to see a presence in Dublin, it’s our capital city and we represent every parish, every corner of the country, but I think the Farm Center, we will have to look at how that’s going to play a part in the association going forward,” he stated.

According to Gorman because there is a general trend towards working from home and the fact that not every member of staff may be working in the Farm Centre “on a full time basis” this means “it’s very, very quickly becoming not fit for purpose”.

However Stapleton does not support this view.

“It’s important for us to have a headquarters, it is important for us to have a presence in Dublin that’s relatively near to the center of power.

“I believe the Farm Centre has been a hugely positive resource for us to have in the IFA and I don’t see that there’s a need for us to change it,” he said.