A major protest planned to take place in Brussels next week has been postponed, due to the “current worsening Covid-19 pandemic situation” according to a statement from the European Milk Board (EMB).

The protest, which was set to take the form of a major tractor demonstration on December 13 and 14, would have seen farm organisations unite to demand a fairer agri-food and climate policy for Europe.

The EMB is the umbrella organisation for 20 associations representing dairy farmers in 15 European countries. The Irish Creamery Milk Suppliers’ Association (ICMSA), which is the Irish constituent of the EMB, was to send a delegation of about 30 of its members to Brussels to take part in the demonstration.

While the Belgian capital will be spared the impact of the tractor-themed protest – for now – the EMB has said that farmers around Europe will continue to organise “strong demonstrations in their countries” throughout December.

Indeed, the Individual Farmers of Ireland will proceed with its planned blockade set to take place on Sunday, December 12, in three locations: Navan; Kinnegad; and north Carlow.

A date for a rescheduled Brussels-based protest has yet to be confirmed.

However, the EMB stated that farmers should be facilitated in travelling to Brussels and taking part in the protest “without having to face entry or exit restrictions such as quarantine regulations”.

Commenting, the EMB said there can be “no Green Deal without farmers” but changes are required to make this happen.

“There can only be an actual Green Deal if essential changes are brought to the EU agri-food system, and if it is shaped with the strong contribution of farmers.”

Commenting on the postponement, ICMSA president, Pat McCormack, said he is positive that the event will proceed as soon as conditions and public-health advice permitted.

And he confoirmed that an ICMSA contingent would be attending the rescheduled event.

He said that the frustration felt by Irish farmers was mirrored by their mainland EU counterparts/

“They, too, were at the end of their tether in terms of media castigation and lopsided and discriminatory supply-chains,” he said.

“It’s exactly the same problems all across the EU where the same ‘cheap-food’ policy meant that farmers were sacrificed to the profits of the retail corporations. Now that has been compounded by those same retail corporations either stepping back completely or just indulging in ‘greenwashing’ while the farmers are expected to carry everyone else through to the lower emissions food systems that have been set as the target. It’s not going to happen.”