CORK farmers gathered in five towns across the county this morning to highlight what they described as twin attacks on Ireland’s farming sector from EU CAP reform and the Irish Government’s Climate Action Bill.
This was the first large-scale demonstration organised by the Irish Farmers’ Association since the pandemic. The protests were part of a nationwide ‘Day of Action’ organised by IFA branches throughout the country.
Farmers assembled in Bandon, Kanturk, Midleton, Mitchelstown, and Skibbereen to highlight their concerns.
Donal O’Donovan IFA Cork West Chairman, who attended the event in Skibbereen, said the ‘Day of Action’ proved a huge success.
“The event in Skibbereen was very successful. It was very well run and we had a huge turnout. We had around 200 vehicles. We drove through the town and we got a great response from the various business people who were out applauding us on the route. We picked traditional market towns. All the events in Cork proved very successful,” he said.
The chairman said farmers have three immediate concerns at present.
“We have three issues. One is to highlight the importance of agriculture to the local community because when farming is going well, the local economy is also going well.
“The Climate Action Bill is going through the Dáil currently and that will have a huge impact on farmers. We welcome it and we will embrace it, but not at a cost. We are not willing to accept it if it is going to cost us to put measures in place.
"The costs would hit our incomes. That will, in turn, affect the local communities as farmers are great to spend in their local towns,” he added.
Mr O’Donovan said farmers are ‘concerned’ and they want the Irish Government to be ‘strong’ for Irish farmers.
“The next CAP is a roadmap for the next ten years. We are at a crucial stage in negotiations. It will all be decided before the end of the year. Farmers are concerned. We want the Irish Government to be strong and stand up for Irish farmers. We want the Minister for Agriculture to fight for Irish farmers and their families.”
IFA President Tim Cullinan said: “The farming and food sector employs 300,000 people across the country and contributed €13bn 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”.
“Last week, I met the Taoiseach Michael Martin, Minister Eamon Ryan and Minister Charlie McConalogue. I warned them that unless there is a change in the current direction of the CAP and changes to the flawed Climate Action Bill, farming in Ireland, as we know it, will cease to exist.”
“A cohort of productive farmers are being hit with huge cuts under the CAP. The EU wants farmers to do more environmental actions, but they won’t fund it. To deflect from this, they have come up with proposals designed to divide farmers,” he said.
“The Irish Government has to secure the maximum flexibility under the CAP and fully honour their Programme for Government commitments to co-finance the CAP and allocate €1.5bn from the Carbon Tax to fund environmental measures,” he said.
“In addition, the flawed Climate Bill contains anomalies which are likely to increase global warming rather than reduce it,” he added.