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Thousands of farmers to close gate on IFA and start their own group

The new group will ‘represent all farmers, not just those in rural areas’.

Image: Photocall Ireland

A NEW FARMERS’ organisation is on the way as a large number of Irish farmers have voted to form a new body as an alternative to the Irish Farmers Association (IFA).

A group of 40 representative farmers met in the Knockranny Hotel in Westport, Co. Mayo last Sunday to agree on a way forward for the group, the formation of which has been mooted for some time.

Spokesperson for the group, Sligo farmer Colm O’Donnell, had been serving as vice-chairman of the Irish Farmers Association’s rural development committee until he resigned last week.

Speaking to TheJournal.ie O’Donnell stressed that the new organisation has the support to make a difference.

“It would be a little premature to say what our numbers will be, I’ve read figures in the region of 10,000 and 20,000,” he said.

I can say that we’ve had 4,500 people at meetings in Letterkenny, Maam Cross and now Westport, and the support is there. These people feel let down by the farming organisations that are currently there.

The group’s primary concern initially was the difficulties facing hill, lowland and commonage farmers as they seek to access the European Commission’s GLAS and Single Farm Payment schemes.

“The group has evolved though,” says O’Donnell.

“I can’t say what our focus will be specifically, our focus will be to listen to what these farmers have to say unlike the other organisations.”

We have agreed resoundingly that we are non-political, we are here to focus on the needs of family farms.If Minister Coveney turns his back on rural farmers a way of life will be lost, this is what we are coming together to fight against.  All we’re looking for is the freedom to farm our land.

The as yet unnamed group should see the light of day by the end of February.

Read: Five children were among 30 who died working on Irish farms last year

Read: Farmers claim farm deaths are ‘due to all kinds of human error and animal unpredictability’

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