Eddie Downey from Slane in Co Meath has been elected President of the Irish Farmers’ Association at the National Election Count in the Castleknock Hotel in Dublin this evening (Tues).
The President-elect congratulated the new Deputy President and the new Regional Chairmen-elect. He thanked all the candidates, especially Jer Bergin and JJ Kavanagh, for the fine campaign they fought. He said unity of purpose was the key strength of IFA and he looked forward to representing farmers in all parts of the country. “I will do all in my power to address the issues and improve the incomes and conditions of all farm families”.
Mr Downey, who has served as the Association’s Deputy President since 2010, will take up office at the AGM on Jan 14th when John Bryan finishes his term. He said he was deeply honoured to have been chosen by the membership to lead the IFA for the next four years, and pledged to work hard on a number of objectives, prioritising issues that were raised by members on the doorstep during the election campaign.
Addressing the National Count this evening after the official declaration, Eddie Downey called on the Government to immediately deliver on their commitment to provide a strong Rural Development Programme for 2014-2020. He said investment in the sector is vital for jobs and export growth.
“There has to be Government delivery on 50:50 co-funding for the next RDP in order to secure the future of thousands of farm families around the country, especially those in vulnerable sectors and regions. We need to see a well-funded agri-environment scheme and Disadvantaged Areas programme, and targeted support for the suckler cow and sheep sectors.”
Turning to retailers, the President-elect was particularly critical of their decision to employ the tactic of giveaway prices on vegetables and potatoes in the run-in to Christmas. “It is unforgiveable to cheapen food at this crucial time for growers. Consumers are willing to pay a realistic price for Irish produce and a price war between the retailers displays scant regard for the value and work of a sector of Irish farming that is already under pressure due to rising costs and downward pressure on prices.”
Eddie Downey said product prices across all commodities, and a Charter of Farmers’ Rights that reduces bureaucracy and penalties, will be prioritised.