AN INCREASED role for women, a smaller ruling council and the creation of new “project teams” to deal with high profile issues are among the proposals for restructuring the Irish Farmers‘ Association.

Contained in a document Preparing for New Challenges, which is being sent to all 940 IFA branches this weekend (July 17/18), the aim is to equip the organisation for life after CAP reform.

“The many and detailed recommendations will strengthen the association, provide new services and position the organisation for the challenges that lie ahead,” said IFA president John Dillon.

Faced with a declining number of farmers the report calls for a streamlining of the ruling council to just 50 members, which will meet six times a year.

Renamed the “executive council”, the 29 county chairmen will have the majority say in setting policy.

The executive council will also include the members of a new “executive board”.

This will comprise the president, four regional vice presidents and a treasurer.

The remaining places will be allocated to the national committee chairmen.

This will include a new committee for young farmers and new entrants.

Mr Dillon said that the branch would remain the fundamental core of the organisation.

To encourage greater participation of women, each branch that nominated a female delegate to county executives would by granted an additional vote.

Elections of office holders would be held once every four years, with a new system of weighted branch voting introduced to better reflect attendance.

The recommendations will be discussed at branch level over the next few weeks, with a decision to be taken at a special council meeting on Sept 1.