IFA presidential election: Tim Cullinan of Ballymackey is aiming for the top job
Tipperary farmer Tim Cullinan has declared his intention to become the next president of the IFA with a promise to “go to war” on behalf of Irish farmers.
The Ballymackey pig farmer said it was time to fight for farmers and their future.
Launching his campaign in his native Toomevara, he said that in his lifetime of experience of dairy, beef, tillage but predominantly pig farming, he had never seen so many incomes as challenged and farm families as concerned as they are now.
Speaking at a packed parish hall in the Tipperary village as he declared his intention to run in front of his local branch members and other supporters, the married father of two said that whether it’s processors, retailers, government or the EU, with him as IFA president, those responsible for putting farmers on the breadline can expect a fight like they’ve never experienced before from Irish farmers.
“Quite simply for farmers, enough is enough. It’s time to stand up for ourselves, for who we are and for what we do,” he told supporters.
Mr Cullinan said that it was going to be a campaign of action that was about putting respect back into farming and giving respect back to farmers, farm families and all who make a living from the land.
“I’ve never been afraid to take a stand. My 15 years in committees and county roles has been about making a stand, fighting for farmers - and getting results,” he said.
“I think people in this room know when I go to war on something, I don’t take a step back. If there ever was a time when this kind of action was needed on behalf of Irish farmers, it’s now,” he said.
Mr Cullinan, the IFA’s national treasurer, has led several IFA campaigns since the mid-2000s. His most notable successes were on the dioxin crisis when he spearheaded the successful bid for €140m for the industry to avoid total collapse of the sector.
He also led a campaign to get a 12c bonus for pigs and got a major retailer to use 100% Irish pig meat in own-brand products.
He also led a high-profile campaign to redress disproportionate inspections in Tipperary, which had seen farmers fined up to €1.2m between 2010 and 2015. His campaign involved a sit-in at the local department offices and eventually to a clean resolution on the matter.
However, he said, the current crisis hitting farmers was unprecedented.
“The assault on farming is coming from all quarters. Falling prices at the factory gate, penalties on the GRID system, beef imports from Brazil and another vicious assault this week on dry stock and suckler farmers in the latest Climate Report. We’re not taking it. It’s unacceptable and it’s grossly unfair,” said the presidential hopeful.
He said that it was time to use the biggest asset they had - the strength of the IFA and the strength of its 72,000 members to fight their case.
“I want to lead the IFA. I want to lead the charge and deliver for farmers. The IFA must stand up for farmers. That’s our job and I intend to use all the resources of the biggest farming organisation in this country to deliver for farmers,” he said.
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