The Irish Farmers’ Association (IFA) has come in for a lot of criticism over the years for what has been perceived as a lack of work on their members’ behalf.
Despite the fact that the European Commission has pledged €50 million in exceptional funds to deal with the crisis that has faced beef farmers for nearly three years, which has been matched by the Government in a deal campaigned for by the IFA, there are still members unhappy with the association.
The €100 million aid package for Ireland’s beef farmers, jointly funded by the European Commission and the Government, will be distributed to beef farmers through the IFA.
The Irish Farmers’ Association (IFA) says farmers have suffered €101 million worth of losses between September 2018 and March this year, which now threatens to ruin some farmers.
The IFA states that farmers have lost on average €100 per head on every steer and heifer killed since the United Kingdom’s decision to quit the European Union in June 2016.
Uncertainties over Brexit have already caused beef prices to plummet in Ireland, while the industry could be hit by 40 per cent tariffs if a hard Brexit of any form occurs.
Factory price records from September 2018 to March 2019 compared with the six months before the Brexit referendum vote show that prices for bulls has dropped by €1 per kg, while a 25 cent per kg fall has happened for steer and heifer prices.
Kilkenny based farmer Edward Delahunty has been a member of the IFA all his life, but by his own admission, he has never really been involved until recently.
Having been elected as the chairman of the Kilkenny branch of the IFA’s grain committee, Edward has seen the work being carried out by the members in their headquarters.
“I have to say there are very good lads there. Granted, most of their work goes unseen and I suppose that is why some people do be giving out about them, but having spent time in Dublin, it is plain to see that they do a lot of good for the farming community as a whole and not just for their members, everyone is included,” stated Edward.
“I was never directly involved until late last year, to be honest I never really had the time, but I got elected as chairman of the grain committee and I have to say it has been a real eye opener for me. They deserve great credit for the work that they do.” Jokingly he added: “It’s hard to get farmers to agree on anything anyway.”
Even though there is a lot of concern in the farming community about the future of the industry, Edward feels that unlike other industries, farmers always have something to fall back on.
“If a small business is forced to close down, that’s it, they have no source of income, but farmers still have land which can be leased or utilised in another way which means that they still have an income coming in, there are options there for them, while there isn’t any for people in other industries.”
Edward pointed out that many of the people involved in the IFA at grass roots level are there on a voluntary basis and he stressed that they deserve more credit for the work they are doing.
“They are guys there for years doing great and getting nothing in return. We have the likes of James Murphy who is Kilkenny County Chairman and Mark Browne, National Grain Chairman, who do brilliant work.”
Finding time to attend meetings is a bit of an issue for Edward as he is busy running a farm at home in Kilkenny, while also operating an agricultural contracting business that has been in operation for over 40 years.
Originally established by his uncle Noel Delaney, the business Noel Delaney Agri Services Ltd has been supplying a wide range of services to a large customer base for many years.
Noel set up his contracting business in 1975 to cater for the needs of local farmers. Over the years, it has grown to provide a complete agricultural contracting service, including all forms of precision-chop silaging, corn, maize and beet harvesting, baling and wrapping, reseeding, dung spreading and excavation work. Noel Delaney Agri Services also supplies washed beet, maize and straw to farmers in the area.
Unfortunately, Noel passed away in recent times and Edward admits that there has been a huge void left since his passing.
“Noel worked hard all his life and his experience was invaluable. I learned so much off him and he will be sorely missed. He had a great relationship with all his customers, and they have stayed with us.
“We are getting busier as they are expanding, while we are also attracting new customers. It can be very busy at times and with the farm and IFA duties, I’m kept going all the time.
“Many of our customers have been with us for the last 40 years. They have struck with us through thick and thin because we offer a professional, clean, reliable and flexible service. We are always prepared to go the extra mile to look after their needs.”
Noel Delaney Agri Services Ltd
Kilmanagh, Co. Kilkenny.
Telephone: 086 2750398
Email: [email protected]
Taken from Irish Tractor & Agri magazine Vol 7 No 5, September/October 2019