John Coughlan officially launched his Irish Farmers’ Association (IFA) presidential campaign on Saturday night, September 28th.
Former IFA presidents Donie Cashman and John Bryan, and Buttevant local and CEO of Cork Marts, Sean O’Sullivan, endorsed Coughlan’s candidacy at the event which took place on his family farm, outside Buttevant, Cork.
Cashman and O’Sullivan also pointed out it was 40 years since Cork last had a candidate for the top job in IFA and that the “time was right to change that”.
Addressing the crowd, John said: “I am passionate about farming and passionate about the need for farm incomes to take centre stage immediately, centre stage with Government, centre stage with industry and indeed centre stage with the IFA.
“Farmers are the foundation of the food industry. But, without viable farm families, this industry is broken.”
Coughlan noted that farm income is the most important issue for IFA at all times. He stressed that the income crisis crosses all commodities with beef, potatoes and vegetables under “serious threat”.
“However, livestock enterprises have come under an unprecedented attack. No beef enterprise can return a viable income now.”
“Grain and sheep sectors are only barely surviving, and many dairy farms are only managing because of vastly increased scale. This is not a sustainable model for Irish farming.”
Coughlan identified his key priorities for IFA, as follows:
- Farm incomes: ‘A basic right of every farmer. Commodity prices must be returned to the farmer’
- CAP reform: ‘A full CAP budget must be delivered by Europe and must be tailored to genuine farmers’
- Climate change measures: ‘New money is the only way forward’
- Farm family welfare: ‘Low income, government policies and European regulations are putting huge pressures on farm families who see little future for generational renewal’.
Additionally, John told the crowd that as IFA president he would split the Competition Authority into two distinct bodies; work towards achieving financial respect and the farmer’s right to get a margin for their work; proactively seek transparency in all sectors of the industry and challenge Europe’s cheap food policy.
He stated: “As farmers, we are expected to take what’s left and to produce below the cost of production.”
“Farm families are expected to survive on an average farm income for 2018 of less than €23,000. This can’t be allowed to continue.”
“As president, my mission will be to deliver a viable income for farming families, one that allows the next generation to farm with confidence."
“I will take on the biggest and roughest organisations to protect and help farmers. No Government dept, EU institution or multinational will get an easy ride from IFA and I will challenge any regulation that is not equivalent to ours in the European market.”
“I want a level playing field for farmers. I will deliver a level playing field for farmers.”
Dairy, beef & tillage farmer
Former IFA President, Donie Cashman, told the audience: “We need a decent person to lead the organisation. One who will wave the flag, who will stand firm, and who will not be pushed around by anybody.”
“John is straight, he’s decent, he’s honest, he is working for farmers and he is not working for John alone and that is a very important thing to remember.”
“The IFA represents all farmers and John is in an ideal position to understand this because John is a dairy farmer, a beef farmer and a tillage farmer.
John Bryan, former IFA President and National Chairman of the Livestock Committee, said: “John is the best candidate for President of the IFA for the next four years.”
“Especially at a time when farmers’ incomes are on the floor and when there is huge pressure on the IFA in Brussels to defend the budget, as well as the huge restrictions Brussels wants to put on us for the environment.”
“We are being asked every day to do more for less so it’s very important that we send someone like John out to Brussels who knows how to negotiate.”
'IFA in his DNA'
Sean O Sullivan, CEO of Cork Marts, said: “John Coughlan has IFA in his DNA. Farmers need strong and effective leadership. It takes a good general to march his troops up the hill but more importantly to march back down again when the time is right.”
“It is easy to tell people what they want to hear but it takes a leader to tell people what they need to hear and to bring them with him.”
“I believe John is the right man at the right time to lead the organisation.” O’ Sullivan concluded.