An Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has said it is both unfair and counter-productive to climate-shame farmers.

He was speaking at last week’s Irish Creamery Milk Suppliers Association (ICMSA) AGM in the Limerick Radisson Hotel in Co Clare.

“There’s been an awful lot of climate shaming of farmers and I think that’s unfair, quite frankly.

“I think it’s counter-productive. When you try to shame people, you don’t get them onside, you get their backs up.

“I think a lot of what’s been done in terms of blaming farmers and shaming farmers is the wrong approach and I want to see that stop,” he said.

Demonising farmers

Green Party leader and Minister for Environment Eamon Ryan also addressed the AGM. He said that farmers should not be demonised.

“If anyone can show me an example where myself or someone from my party is out there demonising farming, then I’ll be the first to apologise and say that should not happen.

“We are not in the business here of depicting ourselves versus farming, at all. Far from it, the exact opposite,” he told the milk suppliers in attendance on Friday last.

Commenting on Ireland’s nitrates derogation, Minister Ryan said that he does not believe that Ireland will reverse the cut from 250kg to 220kg organic nitrogen per hectare.

“I don’t think we’re going to reverse it. We should be careful. I believe we can farm successfully without the derogation we had.

“I don’t think we can trade on Origin Green and try and protect that derogation to the very end. I think in the end it could catch us out if we’re not careful,” he stated.

Minister for Agriculture Charlie McConalogue told the AGM that Ireland is still trying to get “as much flexibility as possible” on the derogation.

He rejected an assertion that the Government gave in too easily on the 250kg derogation. “There’s no lack of ambition. We wanted to hold it at the 250 – that hasn’t proven possible. That’s led to a lot of difficulty and a lot of uncertainty.

“I can’t change the fact that uncertainty is there, all I can do is work to hold it [220kg].

“We must all work together, it’s fundamental to our whole dairying system,” he said.