Wicklow livestock farmer and the Irish Farmers’ Association’s (IFA’s) national livestock committee chairman, Angus Woods, launched his campaign to become the 16th president of the IFA.

The event was hosted yesterday evening, Tuesday, September 10, in the Bel Air Hotel, Ashford, Co. Wicklow.

In his campaign address, Woods said “the risks to the future of Irish farming and rural Ireland have never been so great”.

Special guests at the launch included:
  • Chef and food writer, Catherine Fulvio;
  • International rower and Irish Olympian, Sean Drea;
  • Former Macra na Feirme president, Thomas Honner;
  • Former IFA presidential candidate and chairman of the IFA National Livestock and Sheep Committees, Henry Burns.

He outlined: “A no-deal Brexit, further reform of the CAP and the threat to CAP-supported schemes, the Mercosur trade deal and the market dysfunction at home and in Europe are the most significant threats to face Irish farmers in generations.

“At the heart of these battles are the prices farmers are getting for their produce and the lack of a decent income for farming families.

Our dependence on export markets and the lack of transparency in market and exploitation by buyers at home have damaged confidence and undermined incomes of farm families.

“However, the problems in the beef sector have been undermining livestock incomes and our industry for decades.”

Record to date

Commenting on his work in the IFA to date, Woods said: “As livestock chairman of the IFA, I succeeded in lobbying on a range of critical issues including an emergency aid package of over €100 million under the BEAM scheme and €20 million of additional money for a suckler-cow support scheme plus a range of market transparency, carcass trim and grading measures.

“These included the publication of the Veterinary Inspectors Handbook and increased accuracy in grading.

On illegal trimming, I lobbied the Department of Agriculture to name those factories that were engaged in illegal trimming and pay compensation to the farmers affected.

“I will be campaigning for more aid funding to protect farm incomes. We will need further financial aid, including a ‘BEAM Two’ scheme.

Continuing, the IFA presidential candidate said: “Farm families need immediate income supports and protections and I will see to it that IFA campaigns to secure this funding and other protections to shield farming from the potentially devastating scenarios we are facing at home and internationally.

However, we cannot continue rolling from crisis to crisis. We need long-term solutions that deliver visibility and transparency around pricing and margins, and a fair sharing of the retail price and market risk among retailers, processors and farmers.

Concluding, Woods outlined: “These solutions require better performance from our market regulators in the Competition Authority and pricing and profitability information from state agencies, including Teagasc and Bord Bia.”