Around 200 dairy farmers protested outside the offices of three cabinet ministers in Cork on Friday seeking a lead-in time for farmers ahead of the introduction of new nitrates derogation rules in January.

The Irish Farmers' Association (IFA) protest began with a march down the main street of Carrigaline, where the farmers stopped outside the office of Minister for Enterprise Simon Coveney.

Minister Coveney was present and met with a small IFA delegation before the protest made its way to the office of Minister for Finance Michael McGrath.

Later in the afternoon, the protesters moved to Cork city and the office of An Tánaiste Micheál Martin near Turner's Cross.

Let down

Addressing the crowd, Paraic Browne from Carrigaline IFA said: "Farmers feel let down by the Government, the Department [of Agriculture] and the EU over this."

Dairy farmer protesters are seeking a "short phase-in period" to comply with the new derogation rules.

Cork central IFA chair Conor O’Leary said the protest was taking place to ask for some time to let farmers calve down pregnant cows and to give farmers time to get these cows off farm in a planned way.

Farmers said there was no clarity around these rule changes during the main breeding season for spring-calving herds earlier this year.

It wasn’t until early October that detailed maps of the areas that are either 220kg or 250kg N/ha were released, while farmers only received written confirmation of which zone their farm is in on 15 November, giving them just over six weeks before the rule changes are implemented.