Government policies that place increased regulations on dairy farming have been slammed by the Irish Creamery Milk Suppliers Association (ICMSA), which suggested that many rural TDs’ seats could be in jeopardy as a result of this approach to commercial farming.

ICMSA president Pat McCormack called out what he said was a double standard in Government on the approach between the dairy sector and data centres.

Data centres, he said, are accommodated using any means necessary, while decisions concerning the future of dairy always err on the side of restricting and limiting farmers.

“Obviously, the Government is going to strenuously deny that they are anti-farming. But they would [want to] start backing that up with action and funding,” McCormack commented.

“They seem to contort themselves looking for ways to accommodate vast energy-consuming foreign-owned data centres that employ less people than a nearby co-op store.

“Meanwhile, there’s a steady flow of regulations and restrictions and costs all aimed at farmers and coming from every direction that all combine to make it harder day by day to produce the food that is the real economic and indigenous infrastructure of these local communities,” he said.

Rural TDs

McCormick issued a warning to rural TDs in Government that their chances of re-election could be diminishing.

“It’s not our place to point out the obvious to rural TDs, but nobody can say they weren’t told.

"In fairness to some representatives from all parties, we are aware of individual politicians who admit their confusion over official policy,” he added.

“But that won’t be anywhere near enough come a general election and we think that there’s going to be a degree of shock at the extent to which traditional farmer support will either stay home or switch.”

Budget opportunity

The ICMSA president concluded by telling policymakers that the upcoming budget presented Government with the chance to indicate its position on the future of Irish farming.

“There’s a budget in four weeks and if ever there was a time to signal that the Government understands the extent of disappointment and downright anger among the farming communities, then this is it,” McCormack said.