The clear message from the thousands of farmers at the four IFA rallies on Friday is that they are frustrated and angry at the way they are being treated by Government, IFA president Tim Cullinan has said.

In the region of to 5,000 farmers took part in the four rallies on Friday in Cavan, Roscommon, Portlaoise and Cork city.

Approximately 3,500 farmers alone turned up to the Cork protest.

Cullinan said it should be clear to the Government that anger is building among farmers on the ground.

“Farmers won’t accept being offered up as a sacrificial lamb to the Green Party to keep the Government in office.

“Farmers feel that our Government wants to regulate them out of business. Every policy, including those on climate action, CAP and the Nitrates Action Plan, is designed to reduce production,” he said.

He told farmers in Roscommon that the IFA will fight the threat to cut cattle numbers. “It won’t happen on my watch,” Cullinan pledged.

Farmer views

John Fitzpatrick, Laois IFA chair

“We feel that the Department is meeting with us in a way, but we are not convinced that they are listening or hearing the points we want to get across to them.

“There is a huge amount of frustration, fear, anger and uncertainty out there, and we would like all of that clarified.

“We fully recognise that there have to be changes made in regards to the environment, but the result that we want is viable farms at the end of this.”

Eddie Fitzpatrick, Portarlington, Co Offaly, farmer and Fianna Fáil councillor

“I can see the impact these proposed cuts are going to have on farm incomes and farm families. I have sucklers and we produce beef, we produce good-quality beef in this country to a very high standard.

“I have a son who’s going into farming and I want to protect him, his family and the farm incomes, particularly in the next 10 years.

“There are huge issues around the costs that are incurred, be that fuel, energy, the price of fertiliser and all that’s going to have an impact on farm incomes.”

Patrick Parkinson, Mountrath, Co Laois

“I think the IFA aren’t representing us properly. They’ve left it too late. This protest should have happened two months ago. The suckler cow is being shot down every day of the week, I don’t even break even at best. Without payments, I’d have nothing. We should be getting a bigger premium for our beef.”

Andrew McShay and Adrian Gallagher, Donegal

“We made the long journey from Donegal because we feel that the current proposals have the potential to shut us down. We are doing our very best in terms of looking after the environment but these proposals go beyond what we can take so we have to take a stand against it. We just want a level playing field with everybody else. The field isn’t level at the moment. We can’t tolerate any more cuts, we aren’t viable as it is. The minister has to listen to us more.”

John Joe McGearailt, hill sheep farmer, An Ghaeltact, Co Kerry

“I’m here to support our fellow farmers, our dairy farmers, sheep farmers, beef farmers and whatever else type of farmer.

“We need to all stick together and we need to fight this Government because they’re getting out of hand basically. If this goes through, it will create havoc. It will destroy rural Ireland for a start.

“Hopefully, Government will listen to us and if they don’t, we’ll go to Dublin and we’ll stay in Dublin until somebody listens to us.”

Louise Crowley, dairy farmer, Croom, Co Limerick

“I’m here because the Government simply isn’t listening to any proposals that are put forward and we’re going to need support if we’re going to keep the farming industry going. These climate proposals that are coming in, they’re not taking into account what we’re already doing in certain areas and they need to be a bit more realistic.”

William Keane, dairy farmer, Ardmore, Co Waterford

“I suppose as farmers and as an industry, I feel we’re being scapegoated. We’re willing to do our bit, we’re all doing a lot with low-emission slurry spreading, variable-speed vacuum pumps and clover.

“We’ve reduced our own emissions by about 20% in the last four or five years. We need the Government to listen. We’re willing to do it but what they’re asking at the moment is unattainable. I think we’re being the scapegoat for other sectors and industries at the moment.”

Jim O’Connor, Roscommon IFA chair

“We are here today to save Irish farming. Our family farms are threatened on many fronts, but most of all we are threatened by the actions of the Department for Agriculture, who are proposing to put in place a set of measures that are entirely unacceptable to us and entirely unworkable. Our suckler herd is the mainstay of Roscommon and Connacht farming. It is also the mainstay of the Irish economy.”

Elizabeth Ormiston, Cavan IFA chair

“Convergence, eco schemes and the possibility of the front-loading CRISS scheme are going to put my farm under pressure. Eco schemes are going to be the final nail in the coffin.

“Then, on the other hand, we have the forestry shambles, organic farmers who can’t get into [the scheme], not to mention the microgeneration and all the sheds in the country that we could have solar panels on.”

David Costello, dairy farmer, Kilcolgan, Co Galway

“I am dairy farming at home with my parents in Co Galway and I am here today to try and stand up for ourselves and make our voices heard. There needs to be a future in farming and with the way it’s going, it’s making it very difficult and very hard to entice young people into farming at the minute. The likes of today is no harm and needs to be done on a regular basis. We need to stand up.”

James Gleeson suckler and sheep farmer, Co Roscommon.

“The reason why I’m here today is because we need to stand up, we are facing huge challenges with the CAP reform and the environment in regards to climate change. Going forward, we are really fighting for our future.”