Chair of the Oireachtas committee on agriculture, Jackie Cahill, has called on MEP Ciarán Cuffe to withdraw his comments to bank CEOs warning about lending to farmers.

He said the MEP should apologise to the young farmers of this country.

“I have received countless complaints from people all over rural Ireland over the last two days following the publication of MEP Cuffe’s comments in the Irish Farmers Journal this week.

“I found it hard to believe what people were telling me to be true until I saw the comments in black and white myself,” he said, describing the letter as “arrogant, ignorant and stereotypically naïve”.

“How any small business owners can be expected to modernise without access to credit is a standard example of the environmentalists’ naive views of farming in this country, and the key role it plays in the rural economy,” said Cahill.

‘Dangerous and deeply insulting’

“To write to banks asking them not to lend to a certain group of people in rural Ireland is dangerous and deeply insulting.

“Young farmers are hard enough to come by these days and the family farm model is increasingly coming under pressure as it is already difficult to attract young people into farming full-time. But MEP Cuffe’s actions in writing to banks asking them to shun this group of young people are outrageous,” he said.

“Who is he to dictate to rural Ireland and to our young people – to the few young people remaining in rural ireland, to build lives for themselves here?

Who is he to dictate to rural Ireland and to our young people

“Equating [on-farm] investment and improvements in farming for the future to something that is a negative thing, is typical of the naive and ignorant view of the environmentalists’ agenda, that we have sadly become all too familiar with in rural areas in recent years.

“Those on that side of this debate, such as MEP Cuffe, might do well to explain how our farmers of the future, who want to build a sustainable future and move with the times, are to do that and invest in expensive and modern farming methods while simultaneously being barred access to credit?” said the Tipperary TD and farmer.

The IFA has said Green Party leader Eamon Ryan must clarify whether he supports Green MEP Ciarán Cuffe’s “attempt to sabotage Irish farmers”.

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Green MEP lobbies banks against lending to farmers