New IFA president sets out priorities for four-year term

Eddie Downey sees protecting farm incomes and securing new charter of rights as key priorities

Eddie Downey is the 14th president of the farming association and was previously deputy president.

Eddie Downey is the 14th president of the farming association and was previously deputy president.

Tue, Jan 14, 2014, 15:42

New IFA president Eddie Downey has taken office at the association’s AGM in Dublin today.

The farmer, from Slane, Co Meath is the 14th president of the farming association and was previously deputy president. He takes over from Kilkenny-man John Bryan who has signalled his intention to run in the European Parliament elections later this year.

Setting out his priorities for his four-year term of office, Mr Downey said he would be focusing on improving farm incomes and on securing a new charter of rights for farmers that would ensure they are treated with respect when it comes to issues such as farm inspections.

Mr Downey also said Irish agriculture must not be sacrificed in EU trade deals. He said the European Commission was using agriculture as its main bargaining chip in bilateral trade negotiations.

“The recent import concessions allowing 45,000 tonnes of Canadian steak cuts will damage the position of Irish beef on the European market,” he said.

“A deal on the same basis with the US, given their magnitude, would have a devastating impact on our livestock sector and cannot be allowed.”

Minister for Agriculture Simon Coveney will address the farm group this evening. Before that, he is expected to announce details of the next Rural Development Programme, after it is approved at this afternoon’s Cabinet meeting.