The IFA has threatened to take farmers onto the streets of Dublin, and “stay there” if the Government refuses to engage directly with farmer representatives on CAP, climate change and nitrates measures.

IFA president, Tim Cullinan, said farmers were not willing to have carbon reduction targets imposed on the industry without consultation, insisting that any carbon ceilings for agriculture had to be negotiated with farm representatives.

The warning came this week as the farmer association prepares for a series of regional protests across the country on Friday 8 October.

Tractors and farmers are expected to flock to Cavan, Roscommon, Portlaoise and Cork in a day of action by the association.


The IFA protests are scheduled to kick off in Cavan on Friday morning at 7.30am. The action moves on to Roscommon at 12pm, and then to Portlaoise at 5.30pm. The final protest takes place in Cork at 8pm.

If we don’t get a response we are going to Dublin next week

However, Cullinan has warned that the focus of farmer action will shift to Dublin if the Government fails to respond to its call for direct negotiations.

“If we don’t get a response we are going to Dublin next week, and we’ll stay in Dublin until the Government negotiates with us,” Cullinan said.

The IFA leader claimed Irish farming was potentially facing “the most fundamental changes since the foundation of the State” because of the challenges facing the sector.

“We want Government to get around the table with us to discuss everything that’s coming down the line for farmers, including CAP, climate change and nitrates,” he insisted.


He described the current CAP and nitrates proposals as “a sly way by Government to reduce production” and claimed that a real consultation process was required to set out farmers’ concerns.

Cullinan accused the Minister for Agriculture, Charlie McConalogue, of seeking to construct a “simplified CAP plan” that would be ratified by Brussels but had “negative implications for farmers”.

Should they not deal with the mess in the forestry sector first before asking farmers to plant?

The IFA president said farmers were not getting credit under the proposed eco-scheme measures which will account for 25% of Pillar I payments.

“Farmers are asked to devote 4% to 8% of their land to non-productive features. Or they want us to plant trees. Should they not deal with the mess in the forestry sector first before asking farmers to plant?” he asked.

“Farmers are back again to a cost incurred, income foregone scenario. But lots of measures that farmers are doing already should more than suffice for what the Minister is looking to achieve.”


Cullinan said farmer fears regarding CAP were being compounded by the proposed nitrates changes and concerns around new climate change sectoral ceilings for agriculture.

While the IFA leader accepted that action was needed to halt the slide in water quality, he labelled some of the measures proposed in the Nitrates Action Programme as “draconian.”

Cullinan said moving the cut-off date for slurry spreading back into September did not tally with the stated aim of reducing chemical nitrogen usage.

He said farmers who spread slurry in October recorded 15-30% more grass during early spring grazing on paddocks that received a dressing.

Slurry storage

The IFA leader also called for improved State aid in the provision of slurry storage.

“There is an acceptance among farmers that more storage capacity is required. Farmers want to tackle this issue, but the best way of doing it is by working with farmers.

“We need assistance to build the infrastructure either through grants, tax breaks or low-interest loans. If it is a legal requirement that farmers need additional storage then they will be unable to get these developments funded under TAMS,” Cullinan pointed out.

The finger of blame on water quality can’t be pointed solely at farmers

Local authorities also had to tackle discharges from overworked water treatment plants, he maintained.

“The finger of blame on water quality can’t be pointed solely at farmers. A proper and honest monitoring of discharges into rivers from towns and villages needs to be provided,” Cullinan said.

With the Climate Change Advisory Council due to bring its recommendations to Government later this month regarding the overall ceilings for carbon emissions reductions, he said it was vital that farmers had an input into the setting of sectoral limits for agriculture.

“It was clear from the farm leaders’ debate in Tullamore that Government has to listen to farmers on climate change. This is a national issue, but it is particularly worrying for farmers,” he said.

“These [climate change] limits could effectively put farmers out of business,” Cullinan said.

He pointed out that a 10% reduction in methane had been agreed by the farm sector and Minister McConalogue as part of the Agri Food Strategy 2030, now far higher cuts were being touted.

“The Minister signed off on that strategy just three months ago. You’d have to ask what was the point of all the work on producing that document if the goalposts have shifted so quickly,” the IFA leader commented.

We have tried to work with the Government on these issues, but all we get is ‘stakeholder consultation’

Asked why the IFA had left it so late to deal with these matters, Cullinan said real engagement with Government had proven difficult.

“We have tried to work with the Government on these issues, but all we get is ‘stakeholder consultation’. We need more than that. Our livelihoods are on the line.”

Cullinan warned that farmers’ concerns regarding CAP, climate change and nitrates could not be fobbed off or ignored.

“Farmers know that the CAP proposals are being finalised for Brussels, we know the climate recommendations are imminent. This is urgent, we need a response now.

“If we have to go to Dublin then we will go to Dublin. And if we have to stay in Dublin to get a response then we’ll stay.”