Irresponsible slurry spreading, poor milk prices, the derogation and issues facing tillage farmers, dominated discussions in both Macroom and Dungarvan this week for IFA presidential candidates Francie Gorman and Martin Stapleton.

Dónal Murphy from Cork central IFA was first to take the roving mic on Monday night in Macroom and raised the issue of irresponsible slurry spreading.

“Last Saturday week there was a yellow warning for rain in Cork. Millstreet played Urhan in a game of football and there was a video taken during the game of a farmer spreading slurry within four or five feet of the crowd standing on the sideline.” He asked the candidates what their thoughts on the issue were.

Stapleton said there is no excuse for spreading slurry anywhere on a wet day and Gorman said he shouldn’t be sanctioned for it.

“Someone should tap him on the shoulder and tell him to have a bit of cop-on and spread it on a different day when there’s no match being played and when it’s not raining,” Gorman maintained.

‘Dairy man’s organisation’

Séamus Daly from Kilcrohane asked the candidates what would they do as president to redress the opinion “of so many farmers” that the IFA is a dairy man’s organisation.

In response to this, Gorman said that in his 25 years with the IFA, he has never come across farmers with this opinion.

Stapleton said that he has never seen the IFA to be a dairy farmers’ organisation.

Milk price

Questions on poor milk prices surfaced in both venues, with Stapleton and Gorman saying that processors need to be called out.

“Our job in the IFA is to make sure that whatever the market is paying that it is returned to us by our co-ops. It’s important we all keep pressure on the real decision makers, the board men in our co-ops,” Stapleton argued.

Farmers also expressed their concerns around the tillage sector. A farmer in Macroom described it as like being on life support, while another looked for the Tillage Incentive Scheme to be more attractive.

Similar concerns were expressed about the derogation, with one farmer saying that a reduction, as a result of the cut, of anything between 30,000 and 40,000 cows is completely “immoral”.

Both candidates said that improving water quality is the only way to secure the derogation.

The hustings between the IFA presidential candidates continue across the country.