The IFA National Dairy Committee, in its final meeting for 2013 has elected Vice Chairman Sean O’Leary as its new Chairman for the next four years. Sean farms at Mourneabbey, near Mallow in North Cork, with his wife Fidelma and their three children Daniel, Orla and Valerie. Sean supplies Dairygold Co-op.
Sean O’Leary has held a number of senior positions within IFA, which have given him a very valuable understanding of the organisation, the Irish agri-industry and a broad array of policy issues.
From 2001 to 2004, Sean was IFA North Cork County Chairman, and from 2005 to 2009, he was Munster Vice President of IFA and Chairman of the IFA Project Team on Climate Change. In the latter position, he was the voice of IFA in Brussels on climate change issues. He has also built up considerable expertise in animal health issues in his capacity as North Cork and National Dairy Committee representative on animal health within IFA.
Commenting on what he saw as the priorities for the National Dairy Committee over the next four years, Sean said: “Early in the New Year, I intend to take stock, with the Committee, of the current state of the sector in terms of its preparation for the post-2015 era”.
“My view is that we must influence continued consolidation and collaboration on collecting, processing and marketing milk in the context of our ambition to grow production. We must ensure that expansion is profitable for farmers. Those planning to increase production and new entrants must have access to quality business and financial planning advice and skills building,” he said.
“A crucial issue in the coming year will be the implementation on farms of the new Dairy Quality Assurance and Sustainability scheme. We will demand that co-ops demonstrate to their suppliers the marketing and financial benefits of the new scheme, and we will monitor its implementation on farms for fairness and consistency. Farmers must be rewarded for participating and submitting themselves to the audits,” he added.
“Lastly, I see it as our role to help devise mechanisms at national and industry level to help mitigate the impact of extreme margin volatility on dairy farmers’ incomes and their ability to invest. Ensuring that the best possible milk price is paid to farmers will remain our highest priority, but I believe the National Dairy Committee also has a duty to help shape and prepare our farmer-owned industry in this crucial phase,” he concluded.