Getting a fit-for-purpose broadband service established in rural areas is as important a development for the Irish economy now as was the investment in the motorway network some years ago, according to IFA President Eddie Downey.

“It’s the one issue that has been central to the views expressed by farmers coming on to our stand at this year’s Ploughing Championships,” he said.

“I have had parents telling me that their children will not come back from college at the weekends because the broadband service at the home farm is so poor. As a result, they would rather stay in Dublin.

“This is totally intolerable.”

Downey said that the broadband issue must be resolved by Government.

“And the sooner the better. We met Minister Alex White recently on this matter and made it quite clear to him what must be done to rectify the issue.

“It is totally unfair that people in rural areas should be so disadvantaged, where broadband is concerned,” he said.

Downey also confirmed that dairy farmers remain concerned about their future prospects, but would not countenance any review of the 2025 targets for the sector.

“Irish farmers took the pain of not being allowed to expand during the 30 years of the EU milk quota regime,” he said.

“We have been totally restrained in terms of fulfilling our dairy potential. And, on that basis alone, Ireland should not be expected to cut back on its dairy output now. Our growth targets for milk are achievable and sustainable.

“Regions, such as New Zealand and the US, have enjoyed a free rein in terms of them developing their milk industries over the past three decades and more. So they should be asked to realign their dairy production levels in order to bring milk output more into line with global demand.”