Making bid to become first Cork IFA president in 40 years

Making bid to become first Cork IFA president in 40 years

John Coughlan with wife Ann, daughter Helena and son Michael.

A BUTTEVANT man is aiming to become the first Cork leader of the country’s largest farming organisation in 40 years.

John Coughlan is one of three men currently vying for votes from the Irish Farmers’ Association membership across the country.

Voting gets underway on Monday and will continue until December 13.

The election count in the campaign to take over from current president, Joe Healy, will take place on December 17.

Mr Coughlan is running against Tim Cullinan from Tipperary and Angus Woods from Wicklow. He is the current chairman of Munster IFA and is a dairy, beef and tillage farmer.

The election follows protests at meat factories earlier this year by beef farmers who were frustrated by prices, leading to the establishment of new organisations including Beef Plan and the Independent Farmers groups.

“Cork is a proud farming county,” Mr Coughlan said. “We have 18,454 farmers employed on 14,201 farms across the county. Our agricultural output is worth €1.2 bn to Cork’s economy. Despite this, farmers here have experienced a 21% reduction in income in the last year alone and a third of us have an income of less than €8,000. Our livelihoods are under threat and we need strong IFA leadership to improve things. As a proud Cork man, I will fight for the farmers of Cork and all farmers of Ireland.”

He added: “I have farmed my entire life in Buttevant with my father before me, my wife Ann, daughter Helena and son Michael. I have seen Ireland’s agri-food sector face many challenges but never has there been such significant threat to Irish farmers.

“We have experienced a 21% reduction in farm incomes in the last year alone, a third of us earn below €8,000 a year and only 5% of us are aged below 35.

And he said: “Things have to change and if elected the next president of the IFA, I will do everything in my power to secure a future for farming in Ireland. I have the passion, the experience and the manifesto to restore viability to our beef sector, secure sustainable incomes for all Irish farmers and dispute all farmer bashing in the increasingly anti-farmer climate debate.”

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