The Irish Natura & Hill Farmers Association has called on all organisations to put the interests of farmers ahead of any organisational interests. This follows announcements in the last week regarding remuneration packages to personnel inside the IFA that has infuriated most farmers, with the view being held that the leaders in the top are out of touch. This is a view that many members of the INHFA formed over 18 months ago when most were still members of the IFA and subsequently led to the formation of the Irish Natura & Hill Farmers Association last February.
During this time all concerns raised regarding key elements of the Rural Development Program were dismissed and it became clear that a deal had already being done with the Minister for Agriculture that suited the IFA leadership, the department of agriculture but not the farmers. This is not representation.
Unfortunately for beef farmers we saw a similar situation develop in autumn 2014 where the response to a major fall in prices was a pre-arranged protest outside these factories after most of the beef was already gone through the system and prices already rising. Why was this protest not held earlier and how much of it was influenced by the levies collected which helped to pay these very high remunerations.
Since our formation we have found that our ethos of farmers being given the opportunity to represent themselves is incredibly effective and nothing to be frightened of. Last week the Irish Natura & Hill Farmers Association got to meet senior officials in the European Commission in Brussels on the issue of land designations and eligibility. We have also held meetings with the minister and senior department of agriculture officials. The key point in all these meetings is that it’s the farmers that are directly affected that are in there negotiating. Any deals agreed will be in the best interests of farmers.
We know there are a lot of genuine grass-roots members of IFA that are very disillusioned and like us in 2014 do not feel represented. If you are one of those you do have choices. You can stay involved in the hope it can be reformed and maybe it can. However if you believe its past reform you can join other organisations that reflects your farming enterprise and what you believe in and maybe the INHFA would suit. If not and you are in a different enterprise there is nothing to fear in organising with others and representing yourselves. Whatever your choice any membership fees or levies should help protect your future and not organisational interests or excessive payments inside these organisations.