Farm leaders face serious crop of challenges in 2014

It will be a New Year in earnest for two of the country’s farm organisations who have just elected new leaders.

Eddie Downey, a tillage, poultry and suckler farmer from Slane, Co Meath, will become the Irish Farmers’ Association’s 14th president when he takes over from John Bryan on Jan 14.

Wexford tillage and beef farmer Paddy Kent from New Ross will also assume the presidency of the smaller Irish Cattle and Sheep Farmers’ Association early in the New Year, in succession to Gabriel Gilmartin.

The new leaders will assume office at a critical time for farmers with a reformed Common Agricultural Policy and other looming challenges.

Mr Downey has served as IFA deputy president since 2010, a position now about to be filled by the newly elected Tim O’Leary, from Cork.

The incoming president outlined some of the challenges facing farmers and Irish agriculture at the start of the IFA election campaign.

“The overhang from the fodder crisis and inflexibility of our banking sector, along with strong input prices, has led to tighter margins and reduced incomes. Budgetary cuts over the last three years and reduced EU-funded schemes are having a detrimental effect on farm incomes,” he said.

The incoming ICSA president Paddy Kent said his main priorities include tackling the issue of low farming incomes and the sustainability of small family farms.

Mr Kent called for a dramatic increase in the prices gained for quality weanlings and a corresponding fall in the cost of inputs.


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