The newly elected Irish Farmers’ Association (IFA) regional chair for Munster, Conor O’ Leary has said that the idea that we should farm at the “same stocking rates or the same input output rates as they do in Europe is bananas”.

Speaking to Agriland today (Wednesday, December 13) he said the idea would not be congruent with Ireland’s grass-based system and different climate.

O’Leary added that we are being “pigeonholed into a stocking rate of a continent that has only 20% grassland” and that this makes Ireland “fundamentally different”.

According to O’Leary, Ireland has a huge job to try and get this differentiation recognised.

The Cork farmer explained that Ireland is now in a position where our farming model is being determined by the “commission of appointed people in Europe, not those who are elected”.

“They’ve never been on a farm here to see what we do; our systems are fundamentally different to what they have in Europe.”

The new regional chair said that feedback from farmers attending meetings and gatherings is that they are “fed up” and do not know what to think.

“They don’t know who to believe when they hear politicians saying things… when money that was supposed to be in their bank account two months ago still hasn’t arrived, and it may not arrive until January; that’s an awful position to be in,” he said.

“We don’t know who to blame. That’s the killer.”

IFA teamwork

O’Leary also said that moving forward, the IFA has got to think in terms of two particular things.

“Communication across all spectrums, that would be from a media presence, all the way across to communication with our own members,” he continued.

He said farmers need to have a more collaborative approach across all sectors and commodity chairs need to be conscious of all types of farming enterprises.

“We’re all farmers. We’re not just beef farmers or dairy farmers or livestock farmers, and we’re all very integrated in the way we work and we all depend on each other.

“But you know we think we’re in different boxes and we’re actually not so we we really really need to bring all sectors together, working together and not against each other.”


In relation to the reduction in nitrates derogation confirmed by the European Commission, O’Leary said “derogation farmers’ are the “template” for sustainability.

“They had economic [sustainability] and they had water [sustainability] and that is proven in the catchment areas and I’d even be of the opinion that the water quality was better where there were more derogation farmers,” he said.

“Derogation farmers, by their nature, are the ones that are inspected.” He said this ensures they are conscious of carrying out their activities in the most environmentally friendly way they can.

“Derogation farmers are the ones who are compliant with slurry storage by nature; it’s showing up in areas that they are the better river qualities.”