North Tipperary IFA Chair Imelda Walsh talks about her journey in IFA and encourages farmers to join her in getting more actively involved.
My involvement with IFA began in November 2009. I had always been involved in the day-to-day running of our farm and once our children were grown up, I decided I wanted to be more involved in the decision-making process affecting farmers.
I went to our local branch meeting and ended up Branch Secretary – a quick baptism into the Association!
The four years as Branch Secretary flew by, and then I was asked to be Branch Chair, I was extremely proud to be the first woman in the branch to hold the position. Shortly after that, I was approached to become the first female County Secretary in North Tipperary.
Even though I was the first women to hold the position, I was treated like any of my male counterparts.
It was great to have the opportunity to be a central part of IFA decision-making in North Tipperary.
One of the campaigns I played an integral part in was highlighting the unfair farm inspection regime in North Tipp, which led to our then Chair Tim Cullinan addressing the Joint Oireachtas Committee on agriculture – a great day for IFA locally and nationally.
Last December I was nominated to take on the position of North Tipperary IFA Chair, having received numerous nomination. It was a very proud day for me, knowing I was recognised as someone who could ably represent the views of the North Tipp farmers at national level. On top of that I was extremely proud to be the first female County Chair.
The past six months have been amazing. The exposure I have received has been phenomenal, and has given me the opportunity to fly the IFA flag and to highlight what we do as an Association for farmers.
I have taken part in numerous media interviews and have been a frequent contributor on our local radio panel show, with other professionals. This has allowed me to show the non-farming sector that we’re very much in tune with current affairs and has helped to raise the profile of farm issues and IFA.
Our association punches above its weight but we have a job of work to do to get younger members into our association. As North Tipp chair I’m certainly up for that challenge!
We need to think outside the box to achieve this but I’m confident that as – as IFA does with all challenges – we will succeed.