Representatives of the Irish Creamery Milk Suppliers’ Association (ICMSA) met with Taoiseach Micheál Martin today (Friday, June 4) to discuss government policy on farming and agriculture.

Speaking after the meeting, ICMSA president Pat McCormack said he is “deeply concerned” with the direction of current government policy, which he claimed “represents a clear threat to commercial family farming in Ireland”.

McCormack was speaking after a meeting between himself and ICMSA colleagues with the Taoiseach; Tánaiste Leo Varadkar; Minister for Climate and Environment Eamon Ryan; and Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Charlie McConalogue.

“It is about time that rural government TDs stood up for the farming community and stopped the tail wagging the dog.”

One the issue of the environment, McCormack said: “Irish farmers recognise their obligations and we are responding as a sector but what we will not accept is the effective shutdown of our sector and politicians telling us to diversify when there are no credible alternatives.”

The ICMSA president said he was “very concerned at this stage”, claiming that the current government “appears intent on squeezing commercial family farming out of this country”.

“It [also] appears to have forgotten the crucial role played by agriculture in the economic recovery and also its central role in rural Ireland from a social and economic perspective,” he added.

Some of the policies that McCormack said he was concerned about are climate change targets, nitrates regulations and incoming changes to veterinary medicine rules.

He continued: “Irish agriculture – despite the negative comments from vested interests – has a proud record of achievement from an economic, environmental, social and rural perspective and the government needs to recognise this.

“The false negativity about our sector is unfairly influencing government policy in a direction that could critically undermine family farms and it is essential that this government and the rural government TDs re-assesses the direction of policy and proactively support the sector,” McCormack argued.