Over 300 people packed into the Longford Arms Hotel last Friday night to celebrate the IFA’s 60th anniversary.
Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Simon Coveney TD and the organisation’s president Eddie Downey were present as was Longford’s IFA officials - past and present; chairman Andrew McHugh and the IFA’s Development Officer, Adrian Leddy.
“You have contributed to the great success of this fabulous association,” Mr Leddy told the crowd.
“We owe a great deal of gratitude to each and every one of you for the efforts and voluntary time you have given to this association on behalf of your fellow farmers.”
Speaking at the event, Minister Simon Coveney said the organisation was the ‘envy’ of many other countries across the EU.
“For 60 years now, your organisation has been advocating, pressuring, protesting when you need to and fighting for farmers.
“But from my view as minister, it has been the interaction behind closed doors over the last four years that I have been hugely impressed by.”
The Minister went on to say that he worked with two IFA leaders, and while they were tough operators and often gave him a hard time, they always came with solutions.
“In particular that was extremely helpful during the CAP negotiations,” Minister Coveney continued.
“Farmers sometimes ask - what is the IFA doing for us? - well let me tell you, whether it’s in Brussels, Dublin or the parish in which you are running a family farm, this is an organisation that is extraordinarily vocal and effective, right to the top of Government.”
IFA President Eddie Downey also spoke on the night
“We had to fight in the beginning for recognition; sit outside steps for 21 days; march from each corner of the country, yet tonight we have the Minister for Agriculture here in Longford at our celebratory event and that is a step in the right direction; it is the direction IFA has taken over the last number of years,” added Mr Downey.
See our 24 page pull-out to mark the IFA’s 60th Anniversary
He went on to speak about the opening of the new drying plant at Glanbia in Waterford and pointed to strong position Irish agriculture now held.
“The recognition agriculture has in the economy of this country is justified - there is growth in this industry; there are jobs in this industry and there is a future for this industry and for rural Ireland.”
In conclusion, the IFA president added, “Rural Ireland is the bedrock of this country,” a sentiment that brought a rapturous round of applause across the banquet hall at the Longford Arms Hotel.