President of the Irish Farmers’ Association (IFA) Tim Cullinan has announced that farm families will descend on Dublin on Sunday, November 21, to “highlight the importance of farming to the Irish economy”.

Farmers will be sending a “strong message to government that they need to sit down with elected farm leaders to make an agreed plan for the sector”. 

‘Farmers have families too’

“Farm families are genuinely fearful about what the future holds. 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,” the IFA president said.

“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.”

Cullinan said that 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 added.

IFA to send a ‘positive message’

Farmers will be travelling on a Sunday 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,” Cullinan continued.

“The farming and food sector employs 300,000 people across the country and contributed €13 billion 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.”