Tim Cullinan and other IFA leaders during last month's protest in Cavan. Such scenes will be replicated in Dublin on Sunday, November 21.

Farmers to bring protest to Dublin

Next Sunday will see IFA stage a protest in Dublin, to “send a strong message to Government” to negotiate an agreed plan with “farm leaders” for the sector.

The Dublin event on Sunday, November 21 comes at pivotal time for agriculture as the Minister for Environment Eamon Ryan last week published the carbon ceilings for the various sectors, requiring a 22-30% reduction in emissions by 2030.

“Farm families are genuinely fearful about what the future holds,” said IFA president Tim Cullinan. “We hear all of these high-level targets being announced, but we have no clarity about what this will mean at farm level. I’m inviting all farm families to attend the event,” he said.

It follows a series of regional protests held in Cavan, Roscommon, Laois and Cork last month in which the IFA sampled the appetite for action amongst farmers.

“Farmers have families too, and they are very conscious of the climate challenge and the need for farmers to play their part. But it can’t decimate our incomes. It must provide a future that is economically and socially sustainable, as well as being environmentally sustainable,” he said.

“Recent Government policy proposals, including those on the CAP, are all about reducing production and adding cost. The CAP is there to support farmers to produce food. It cannot be expected to fund climate action as well. The Government needs to come forward with a proper plan, with proper funding behind it,” he said.

He explained that they have organised the protest on a Sunday to avoid antagonising people in the city.

“We have decided to come to Dublin on a Sunday because we want to limit disruption to the people of Dublin, who we believe are well disposed toward the farming community. We want to send a positive message about what we do and how important that is in terms of producing high-quality food; supporting rural Ireland; and contributing to the Irish economy as a whole,” he said.

"The farming and food sector employs 300,000 people across the country and contributed €13bn in exports in 2020. Outside of Dublin and the mid-east region, the sector provides between 10% and 14% of employment. This is being forgotten in a rush to sterilise Irish farming.”

“If we produce less food in Ireland, more will be produced in countries with a higher carbon footprint, which will increase global warming. We believe that with the right supports, we can reduce methane emissions by using available technologies but all this talk of cutting the so-called ‘national herd’ is really worrying farmers,” he said.

“We want to work with Government on climate action, but there has to be real engagement. Setting targets without any regard for the consequences, or any supports, won't work,” he said.