Francie Gorman, the newly elected president of IFA, has expressed his delight with the mandate received from almost 30,000 members.

“I know that mandate is not just from the people who voted for me, but for those who supported Martin (Stapleton) as well,” he said in his first interview as president-elect with the Irish Farmers Journal.

“To be fair, we ran a non-divisive campaign, and I know that an awful lot of Martin’s supporters will be 100% behind me, like mine would have been if he had won. We move forward in a unified manner, that’s hugely important.”

In terms of his immediate priority, he said without hesitation: “Unquestionably, everything to do with environmental regulation, around the Nitrates Directive and how regulations impact on farmers’ ability to farm. Plus, the CAP negotiations that have already started under Tim Cullinan’s watch, they’re the two big issues at the moment.”

On the difficulties many farmers are experiencing after a challenging year, Gorman said: “I can see cashflow tightening up on a lot of farms. It brings us back to the CAP negotiations again; whether there is an absolute commitment to the EU to support farmers producing food, that’s in question at the moment. For farmers in this country, if we don’t produce it here, it will be produced somewhere else. We should be supported in every way to produce as much food as we possibly can, but be mindful of our environmental footprint; do it in the most sustainable way possible.

“Essentially, the CAP budget has been frozen for decades, and that’s not good enough.

“The cost of inputs is something that will need to be tackled. Input prices had as big a role to play in the poor outcome for tillage farmers this year as weather and poor prices. Planning regulation is another issue, no matter what you go to do now, it’s held up by planning,” he said.

Gorman said that there are organisational issues for the IFA to deal with.

“The finances of the association is a very current issue. We’re meeting next week in an effort to address that, we need the organisation properly funded.

“There’s a neighbour of mine here today who marched to Dublin in 1966, and he always made that point to me, that without a strong, well-funded, hard-working IFA, farmers will be worse off.”

Returning to the need for a unified approach, Gorman concluded: “If you want farmers to move forward in a unified way, that’s not going to happen if you have a divisive campaign. I’ve no doubt that Martin Stapleton will support me.


“Support can often be critical, if people think I’m not doing a good job, they need to say it to me and pull my feet back on the ground,” he said.

“I know Pat Murphy a long time, he’s given sterling service to IFA. For Alice Doyle to come through from the farm family committee to be deputy president of IFA, it’s a huge achievement, and demonstrates a willingness among all farmers to embrace whoever is the best candidate for the job. I look forward to working with her over the next four years.”