Minister for Agriculture Charlie McConalogue plans on appointing Joe Healy to chair the board of the new Agri-Food Regulator, which is due to be formally established on 13 December.

This date will see the board of the regulator meet for the first time at Government’s campus in Backweston, Celbridge, Co Kildare, where the regulator’s office is to be based.

Healy is a Co Galway dairy farmer who served as Irish Farmers' Association president from 2016 to 2020 and as president of Macra na Feirme from 1995 to 1997.

“Joe brings a vast amount of experience on all aspects of the agricultural and food supply chain,” the minister said.

“He has the requisite leadership and organisational skills to steer the strategy and governance of the new regulator as it begins its historic journey to bring greater fairness and transparency to the agri-food sector.”

Getting the ball rolling

The soon-to-be chair stated that trust in the regulator will be vital for farmers and farm sector stakeholders.

He said that the board will now work with the regulator’s chief executive Niamh Lenehan to put the strategy and functions in place that will allow the office to fulfill its mandate.

“It is a hugely positive development for suppliers to now have a regulator who will provide analysis of information about price and market data as well as having powers to investigate reports of suspected breaches and pursue offences where they occur in unfair trading practices,” Healy commented.

Board members

A further seven ordinary board members are also set to be appointed by Minister McConalogue once the regulator is formally established.

All positions, including chair, were selected following a competition held by the State Boards Appointments service.

The seven ordinary board members selected for appointment take the board to an even male-femlae gender split.

The ordinary board members will be:

  • John Comer - a former Irish Creamery Milk Suppliers’ Association (ICMSA) president and a dairy farmer from Co Mayo.
  • Karen Brosnan - agri-food sector management consultant and former chairperson of Nuffield Ireland and Gurteen College. Brosnan currently sits as a director of AgriAware.
  • Margaret Dineen - management consultant and accountant experienced in managing commercial trading relationships in the fresh produce industry.
  • Elaine Donohue - head of the Bia innovator campus which focusses on food industry innovation.
  • Angus Woods - drystock farmer and former-president of the EU civil dialogue for animal products. Woods served on boards including the Irish Cattle Breeding Federation (ICBF) and Bord Bia's meat and livestock board.
  • Grace McCullen - a strategist and commercial marketer who has worked with food, drink and agri-businesses.
  • Paul Brophy - a vegetable grower from Co Dublin, chair of the Unigreen producer organisation and former IFA horticulture committee chair.
  • “The formal establishment of the new regulator’s office is now in sight which is a major milestone in our commitment to bring more fairness and transparency to the agri-food supply chain,” Minister McConalogue added.