The middle of December will see the election to one of the most important posts in the country – president of the Irish Farmers Association. Crowds will gather at the Farm centre in Bluebell, Dublin for the nail-biting drama of the counting of the votes for the position. There are four candidates in the race this time round instead of the usual two – John Dillon from Limerick, Padraig Walshe from Laois, John Boylan from Monaghan and Raymond O'Malley from Louth. A PR system is used for the vote, and the 900+ branches have a vote each; a first time decisive declaration is not expected. Media pundits are expecting partisan scenes, as thus far the campaign has been lively and some might say cut-throat. The front runner at this stage is current vice-president John Dillon – not popular with the powers that be allegedly, but he does have the support of the small farmers and the discontented. Hoping to be the first Ulsterman to fill the post, John Boylan is a well-liked figure on the scene. Laois man Padraig Walshe is a former president of Macra na Feirme; and Raymond O'Malley is a commercial beef producer. All the candidates would no doubt make a fine leader for the IFA – and the prize is the arduous and possibly torturous task of keeping 80,000 members on board while doing battle with the powers that be in Dublin and Brussels. There can be only one – may the best man win.