The Irish Cattle and Sheep Farmers’ Association (ICSA) has said that the “constant trolling of livestock farmers by a small minority of people” will “backfire”.

President of the association, Dermot Kelleher said some people in government agencies, politics, media, and academia are making more and more demands to “dismantle meat and dairy farming”.

“The EPA [Environment Protection Agency] [research] which is calling for a one-third cull of livestock numbers, rewetting of 90% of reclaimed land and quadruple its forestry targets is the latest example,” Kelleher said.

“Within hours of the report… a small cabal of unrepresentative, but noisy, activists were salivating at the prospect of ripping out the heart of economic activity in rural Ireland.”

“Farmers are getting sick of the constant baiting. They feel that nothing they do will satisfy the more extreme green campaigners,” he added.

Livestock farmers

The ICSA has said that farmers are willing to do their fair share, evident in the fact that 46,000 farmers applied to join the new Agri Climate Rural Environment Scheme (ACRES), but only 30,000 places are available.

However, Kelleher said that farmers “are not going to lie down and take extreme proposals that would destroy their livelihoods and potentially create a food security crisis”.

“The reality is that there is a lot of goodwill among farmers to develop their farming systems to be more sustainable, and many farmers are actively working to improve biodiversity.

“But they are not going to engage if the agenda is the vision of a tiny minority where wolves would roam a rural wasteland, consumers would be forced to make do with insect protein and fake burgers, and rural communities would be economically devastated.”


The ICSA president is critical of what he said is the narrative that farmers can easily and profitably switch to growing peas and carrots in the west of Ireland or the Golden Vale.

“I am sick of listening to promises for a just transition when there is no money available to farmers to reach 5.75 million tonnes reduction in CO2e [carbon dioxide equivalent] when the ESB envisages spending €10 billion in respect of their target to get to seven million tonnes reduction in CO2e,” Kelleher said.

“The government expects that the Climate Action Plan will involve total investment of €125 billion across all sectors, but have no proposals on how farmers are expected to fund their targets.”