Judge rules in ICSA’s favour over Reynolds dispute
The legal dispute between the ICSA and James Reynolds has been ticking on for some time now.

The Dealer understands that at a High Court hearing on Tuesday, Mr Justice Paul Gilligan ruled in favour of the Irish Cattle and Sheep Farmers’ Association, the ICSA to you and me, over a dispute involving its former national treasurer James Reynolds.

In April, Mr Reynolds secured an injunction preventing the farming organisation from removing him from its Longford executive.

The legal eagles describe this as an ex-parte injunction.

Mr Reynolds was challenging the ICSA’s decision to remove him from his position on the Longford branch executive and, by extension, his position as national treasurer.

The drystock association wasn’t happy that Mr Reynolds is the deputy president of the right-wing political party, the National Party.

Unhappy

The association was so unhappy that it effectively removed him from the ICSA. It has a policy that says no one can be a spokesperson for a political project or organisation while holding an ICSA national officer position.

Anyway, since April there has been some legal to-ing and fro-ing.

On Tuesday, Justice Gilligan heard submissions from barristers from both sides as well as some affidavits.

The judge said Mr Reynolds had not provided full disclosure in getting the injunction in the first instance. That’s a big one.

Constitution

He also said the ICSA’s management committee had acted reasonably in its approach to the dispute. He said the committee had followed the ICSA’s constitution and had provided Mr Reynolds with due process.

Finally, Justice Gilligan accepted that the ICSA is a lobbying organisation and that having a prominent member of a national political party at its top table would be problematic.

One that’s new to me, too, was that Justice Gilligan accepted ICSA evidence that it could not be associated with comments made by Mr Reynolds through social media slating European Commissioner for Agriculture Phil Hogan. Justice Gilligan awarded full costs in favour of the ICSA. Mr Reynolds can appeal the ruling.

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Controversial IFA man takes ICSA position

The Big Dealer: Hereford steak puts Leo back on message after vegan fling
Taoiseach's diet, Simmental meeting disarray, GLAS payments, Macra presidential race and more in this week's The Big Dealer.

What a whirlwind 24 hours. On Monday, An Taoiseach Leo Varadkar told a Fine Gael parliamentary party meeting that reducing his meat consumption was his personal contribution to tackling climate change – while acknowledging that this was probably negated by all his air travelling.

The same could be said of most of us: Ireland produces the fifth most carbon-efficient beef in the EU, but we have the fifth most carbon-intensive transport habits.

Less than 24 hours of backlash later, Leo revealed that he had followed his earlier statement with “a very nice Hereford steak”.

“I’m very happy to eat fish landed in Donegal, and poultry, and turkeys, and porkmeat, and all of the wonderful products that Irish farmers of all sorts produce,” he told the Dáil on Tuesday, assuring TDs that he had not turned vegan.

At that point, the Taoiseach’s menu was giving me the meat sweats, but I was relieved for him: as guest of honour at the upcoming IFA AGM, I’m reliably informed he will be served steak again.

“I was trying to eat less red meat for two reasons: one, health; the other, climate change,” he said.

“It’s not flippant. It is a fact that red meat increases instances of cancer and contributes more to climate change.”

So it took our leader just one day to turn his back on the vegan fad beloved of trendy urban voters, and realise that a balanced, locally sourced diet is best for you and the environment.

In Ireland, that’s unlikely to be based on anything to do with avocados.

I wish others could see sense as quickly.

Skin and hair fly as Simmental SGM goes wild

There were wild scenes at Friday’s special general meeting of the Simmental Society in Tullamore.

After a lot of shouting and roaring, the meeting voted by 179 to 26 to disband its entire council, to elect a caretaker council and then a full working council.

The saga was triggered by a letter written by long-time society secretary Peadar Glennon to past executives and members of the then-council, outlining difficulties he faced in helping run society affairs and suggesting mediation or voluntary redundancy.

This triggered an immediate response and – eventually – last week’s special general meeting.

Declan Oates, a member of the now disbanded council, chaired the first part of the SGM and had a hard job of it.

After the vote and election of a caretaker council, Bertie Houston took over as the chair.

The caretaker council is made up of Jennie Aherne, Raymond O’Malley, Paddy Hennelly, Padge Mulhare, John Finnegan, as well as Houston. All are society veterans.

After the voting, Peader Glennon spoke and received a loud round of applause.

Ordinary members who attended the SGM were astonished at the ructions.

“It made anything going on at the Beef Plan meetings look like a teddy bears’ picnic,” one told The Dealer.

ICOS troubleshooter Sean Myers is now likely to be called in to bang heads together and get the society moving forward again.

One-horse race for Macra president

The Macra na Feirme presidential election looks like a one-horse race. Thomas Duffy is the only declared runner so far but Macra-watchers suspect that James Barber from Laois or John Keane from north Tipperary could yet throw their names in the ring.

In Leinster, Veronica Wheatley, Eamon Briscoe, Gerard Mahon and Helen Dempsey are running for vice-president. The Munster VP fight is between Sean Wallace and Trevor Coffey. Shane Quigley is the only northwest candidate ... but we have heard rumblings.

Thomas Duffy.

Department going quiet on GLAS

I thought my eyesight was failing me when I checked the Department’s weekly payment update. The number of farmers who received GLAS payments is gone. Instead, very large numbers that would put the EuroMillions to shame are presented. Some €156.7m has been paid out so far for 2018, which is not to be sneezed at and is well up on last year.

But how many farmers were actually paid or are waiting for payment? I have no idea and the Department won’t say.

A cynic would say it only shares information that paints a pretty picture, but I’m not one of those. All I know is the neighbour up the road is owed over €3,000 and needs to pay the meal bill. He is being promised it will be paid “in the next few weeks”, over a month after he was expecting his money.

ICSA’s Kent annoys cattle exporters

It seems there was irritation at the Bord Bia and Department of Agriculture annual briefing for livestock exporters last week. My ears pricked up when I heard reports of ICSA president Paddy Kent making a lengthy speech criticising the organisers for the state of beef farming. Clearly exporters saw this as a hijacking of what is their biggest opportunity of the year to confer with Bord Bia and the Department.

Exporter Kevin Quinn stood up and pointed out that the event was a briefing for exporters and that he wasn’t happy that a farm organisation would use it to make political points.

He thanked Bord Bia, and specifically Joe Burke, for organising the briefing and for its efforts on behalf of exporters.

Irish Cattle and Sheep Farmers Association (ICSA) president Paddy Kent.

Northwest Macra election heats up
Two candidates are now in the running for nominations for the position of Northwest vice president of Macra.

Fergus O’Rourke is the latest candidate to throw his name into the hat for the upcoming Macra elections.

The Leitrim Macra man has declared he will run for the Northwest vice president position.

He is the second person to declare for the position, after Mayo’s Shane Quigley announced his intention to run.

To date, Leinster looks to be the most contentious area, with four people in the running for the VP position there.

Munster derby

There are also two candidates in Munster, where a classic Cork-Kerry derby affair is on the cards with Sean Wallace and Trevor Coffey looking for nominations there.

Meanwhile, there is still only one name in the hat for the top job in Macra of president and that’s Thomas Duffy.

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One-man race for Macra president, but Leinster turns into game of transfers

Mountrath Mart closure a cause for concern
The closure of the mart is another blow to the suckler sector, and raises questions for all marts.

The closure of Mountrath Mart last Wednesday was sudden and shocking.

The fact that it is leaving no debt and no unpaid creditors is reassuring in one way, but strangely unsettling in another.

If a co-op owned mart, with no significant debt, ceased trading because the board of farmers believe it will not be able to pay its way into the future, what lies ahead for other marts?

The fact that Mountrath Mart is in a county as synonymous with cattle – both suckler and dairying – as Laois only adds to the bewilderment.

As Henry Burns put it: “The overheads must be severe,” as the mart had “no major debt” but did not have the “other income streams” that may be propping up other marts.

This is the third mart closure to be confirmed in less than a year, following on from Castleblayney and Carrick-on-Suir, the latter admittedly following a fire that destroyed the premises.

There’s no doubt that rising insurance premiums are a factor, as is the falling number of animal movements through mart rings.

Underneath that is the continuing exposure of some marts to the potential for bad debt.

Extending credit lines to large-scale buyers of younger stock will always bring an element of risk. Should any mart be exposing its shareholders and the farmers who trade through their rings to such risk?

For suckler and cattle farmers, it’s just one more blow, another test of the resilience and optimism of a low-income sector horribly exposed to Brexit.

It’s just as well the Taoiseach is fully behind the sector, and would never say anything to undermine it.

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Reaction: farmers shocked over closure of Mountrath Mart

Mountrath mart to close