A group of IFA members gathered outside the association’s headquarters at the Irish Farm Centre to demand a change to its CAP policy, while the IFA held a protest in Dublin against the Climate Action Bill.
Led by IFA hill chair Flor McCarthy and former IFA deputy president Derek Deane, the group of around 20 farmers demanded that the IFA seek a coupled payment for sheep and suckler farmers.
It’s a sad day that we have to come to the farm centre to fight for what’s right
McCarthy and Deane said the low income sectors were would be hammered by CAP reform, particularly convergence. They said the leadership of the IFA had forgotten these sectors and appeared to be driving a dairy farmer agenda.
“It’s a sad day that we have to come to the farm centre to fight for what’s right,” Deane said.
“We are very clear in what is needed in IFA. We need to get direct supports to farmers who are farming.
“The money is being channelled off to the dairy sector and people that are not farming. As a result, the people with livestock and sheep are finding it difficult to survive and our numbers are dropping all of the time.”
McCarthy said his demands for a coupled payment to be examined were being ignored by IFA leadership.
The group, who remain IFA members, intend to lobby Fianna Fáil and the Minister for Agriculture Charlie McConalogue for coupled supports, funded from the direct payment budget.
We farm in the west of Ireland on marginal land and it’s important the suckler and sheep sectors are looked after
Speaking to the Irish Farmers Journal at the gathering, Sligo farmer Eddie Davitt said: “We’re trying to highlight the plight of the suckler cow and sheep. We farm in the west of Ireland on marginal land and it’s important the suckler and sheep sectors are looked after.
“We feel we’ve been left behind. I don’t know how many thousand suckler cows are gone out of the west in the last two to five years.
“I think a coupled payment is the way forward. All we’re looking for is our share and our money back.”
Sligo farmer Michael O’Dowd told the Irish Farmers Journal: “We made an effort to get to IFA headquarters today to push the case of the suckler and sheep farmer, the forgotten sectors.”