Policymakers need to stand back and give the changes that farmers have made the time to “wash into the system”, according to the president of the Irish Co-operative Organisation Society (ICOS).
Co. Tipperary dairy farmer, Edward Carr, said that the dairy sector has gone through “massive changes” in recent years and farmers have embraced whatever has been asked of them.
But he said there is now a need for “balance” between policy makers and farmers.
Carr, who together with his family has a 220-cow dairy farm in Co. Tipperary, said it is his belief that every farmer wants to “make the place a small bit better”.
“Nobody wants to destroy it, nobody wants to do damage.
“We’ll embrace any technologies that’s put in place we won’t do any harm to the environment, we’ll improve water quality, we’ll do all the right things so that this great family farm model and the cooperative movement can be sustained and will be there well after we’ve passed,” Carr said.
But the president of ICOS said he is concerned about the “rate of change” in the sector.
“Farmers have 100% responsibility for everything we do on our farm and I think 99.9% of farmers are very responsible and there’s no place for anybody that isn’t in in farming.
“Look at the changes we have made over the last four or five years, the changes we have made at farm level – we have been encouraged to use the low emission slurry spreading, protected urea, the multi-species sward, the clover – we’ve embraced every one of those within a few years,” Carr added.
But he said that the changes farmers have introduced have not been given sufficient time to deliver results.
Carr has also warned that against the backdrop of these changes dairy farmers across Ireland are facing significant short term and long term challenges – which are accentuated for some, such as those in derogation.
But as the third generation of his family to farm the land, he also has “no fear for the viability of dairy farmers”.
Carr said: “We have the best country in the planet to produce food in a sustainable way- I’m not saying by breaking any rules or regulations, but in a sustainable way.
“The world has to be fed, we have the ability to produce that food we have the mechanisms in place to do it and I have no fear for the future of not only dairy farming but for beef farming also.”