What is the most pressing issue for Irish farmers?
“In a year which has seen profitability in almost all sectors collapse from last year’s highs, putting profitability for most farmers in question, I believe farmers are still most concerned about the lack of respect that they are getting from Government, combined with the constant negativity in the media.
“We cannot continue to allow farmers to be victims of the blame game where, in spite of relatively stable emissions from agriculture compared with other sectors, so much of the sustainability conversation is focused on agriculture.
“The Government needs to get back to engaging properly with farm leaders; designing payment schemes in a more farmer friendly manner and making payments on time, every time.”
Why are you running for IFA president?
“After four years as farm business chair and four years as treasurer/returning officer, I have seen the working of the organisation at first hand.
“I know what works and what doesn’t work and I believe that experience makes me the best person for the job. I want to lead the defence of farmers in a way that is progressive and changes the direction away from the negative focus on preventing change to prioritising a bright future for agriculture, which underlines the continuation of producing quality food in a sustainable manner.”
What is your number one priority if you are elected president?
“I am determined to restore the respect that people have for Irish farmers and restore the respect that farmers have for the IFA. The most effective way that we can achieve this is to become more solution-focused so that we are more successful in impacting the decisions that affect us as farmers.
“Environmental regulation, the next CAP, future sectoral and area supports, future planning decisions, future taxation issues all need to have farmer involvement so that they are equitable and practical inside the farm gate.”
What one change would you make to the IFA?
“There is not one change that will fix the issues that afflict the IFA, rather a series of things that we need to change.
“We must communicate better among ourselves, with our members and with the public.
“While the president must remain as the chief spokesperson, our professional experts will have to be utilised more in the public arena.
“We must become more agile at decision making by facilitating regular interaction between the different sectors so that our policies are acceptable to all.
“We must become more attractive to new people, especially women and young people, by creating opportunities for new people to get involved and to be effective.
“Finally, we will have to spend some time focusing on developing and modernising our association to make it fit for purpose in 2023.”
Family: Married to Siobhán, with three children; Jessica, James and Vicky.
Farm: Dairy farming in Oola, Co Limerick.