Suckler farmer Hugh Farrell from Ballyconnell, Co. Cavan has raised his hand in a last-minute decision to run for the position of ICSA President.
The 59-year-old candidate has been Chairperson of the ICSA’s Animal Health and Welfare Committee since last year and has been a member of the group for nearly twenty years.
Supported by his seven children and his wife Mary, Hugh said that he wanted to represent the “the border counties and the poorer lands on the smaller farms.”
He also said that at meetings, he often found it difficult to get through to people and he wanted to “bring an understanding of what sort of background that we’re coming from".
He was very vocal in 2017 when pushing the government to act during the fodder crisis. This active stance led him to be in the position to run for president of the ICSA, although he never anticipated it.
Hugh represents the ICSA on the TB forum and so far, has been successful in blocking new regulations to display herd histories in marts.
The Cavan man is also very vocal when it comes to this topic and intends to bring “new interesting facts to the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine”.
He stated that farmers have just accepted that the TB reactor testing is 100% but will now make a challenge on the DAFM on this.
The Cavan man stated “maybe it’s time for us to consider calling that all reactors are cultured regarding whether they’ve lesions or not and then we’ll see what has TB or not. That’s the call I’m going to make.”
He acknowledges that it is a strong statement and one that the DAFM will not like as it is going to be a costly concern for them, saying that, “It’ll put them in their place".
"To think that somebody can control you for sixty days and if there's a negative result and at the end of it, there’s no apologies or no refund or no anything else, those days are gone and farmers just won’t accept that anymore," he added.
Mr. Farrell said that he will push hard on topics such as TB and BVD whether he is elected as president or not, but his goal is to put money back in farmers' pockets, put confidence back and give them a quality of life because at the moment “we’re only slaves to the land.”
The candidate was also protesting against the cross-border lamb trade in Camolin, Co. Wexford at the start of the month.
The election date is set for Thursday, June 27th.