The first full meeting of IFA’s National Council by video conference took place yesterday.
The organisation has been holding regular remote meetings of the National Officers Committee, County Chairs by region and of National Committee Chairs. However, yesterday was the first full formal meeting of IFA’s 59-member National Council under the Covid-19 restrictions.
The meeting heard a full report from IFA President Tim Cullinan including an update on IFA lobbying of politicians in the context of the Government formation talks.
There was a detailed presentation from IFA’s Brussels-based European Director Liam MacHale on the recent EU Commission proposals on the CAP budget for 2021-2027, and the Farm to Fork and Biodiversity strategies.
Tim Cullinan said the meeting highlighted the contradictions in the EU approach, which would result in increased costs on farmers while at the same time proposing to cut vital CAP supports in real terms. “Payments must be increased to reflect inflation and any extra asks of farmers,” he stressed.
The meeting also discussed the new Bord Bia proposals on a Grass-fed standard and on a potential application for Protected Geographical Indication (PGI) status for Irish grass-fed Beef. The Council were clear that there needed to be far more consultation with farmers on these issues.
“Farmers have many concerns regarding the detailed aspects of these proposals. There will have to be full consultation with IFA,” he said.
The IFA President also highlighted that there had been a robust discussion on milk prices. “Council members were very clear that the scale of recent milk price cuts was not justified. International markets are recovering and the Council were adamant that there could be no further reductions,” he said.
The Council also heard reports from IFA’s 15 National Committees: Animal Health, Dairy, Environment, Farm Business & Inputs, Farm Family & Social Affairs, Farm Forestry, Grain, Hill Farming, Liquid Milk, Livestock, Pigs, Potato, Poultry, Rural Development and Sheep.
Tim Cullinan noted that while most of the Council joined the meeting by video conference, several members had to resort to dialling-in by phone due to inadequate broadband coverage. “The Covid-19 emergency has once again highlighted the urgent need for high-quality, affordable broadband to be rolled out across rural Ireland,” he concluded.