The Irish Beef and Lamb Association (IBLA) has said that it “can see no way” that it could recommend that its members support the rally in Dublin this Sunday (November 21).

The rally, which is organised by the Irish Farmers’ Association (IFA), is set to take place under the slogan of ‘Save Irish Farming’. Originally it was intended that it would be a larger event, but it will now be scaled back due to the worsening Covid-19 situation.

Some of the main issues the IFA wishes to highlight in the protest include the changes to the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP); the proposed changes to the Nitrates Action Plan (NAP) and the Climate Action Plan and emissions reduction targets.

The IBLA says that it was contacted by some of its members asking if they should support the protest. In response, the group’s national committee said it “fundamentally disagrees with the position adopted by the IFA on multiple points and to protest with them would be to have a CAP that would be detrimental to our members”, highlighting that most of its members are extensive farmers.

The national committee told its members that “every farmer will have to decide for themselves” if they want to support the protest, and that it should be considered “a personal decision made by each individual”.

However, the IBLA committee argued that the reasons behind the IFA’s protest are “unclear”.

“The IFA website indicates that the protest is because the minister has refused to engage with the IFA on a proper plan for the sector at farm level and he has not made himself available to negotiate directly with elected farm leaders on CAP,” the notes.

According to the IBLA, the IFA has had ample opportunity to engage with the minister on this, through the CAP Consultative Committee; the minister’s mart tour; the Beef Market Taskforce; and ‘one-on-one’ meetings that may have taken place between the IFA and the minister.

As well as that, the IBLA highlighted that it does not agree with the IFA on key points of the draft CAP Strategic Plan, with the two group’s views diverging sharply on convergence; capping of payments; the level of funding for eco-schemes; and the ringfencing of funds for the Complementary Redistributive Income Support for Sustainability (CRISS).