Land distortion was a big ticket item at IFA hustings in the Horse and Jockey in Tipperary last Thursday.

Speaking from the floor about the competition for land, John Ryan, a member of Dundrum IFA said that “horsey people” buying up all the land is an “awful problem” in the county.

“They’re no good for the schools, they’re no good for the hurling teams, they do nothing for the parish, they’re no good for the hardwares and they’re no good to the co-ops.

“If that was people from China, they’d be stopped long ago, but no, these people are admired,” the west Tipperary farmer said.

In response, Stapleton said: “Let’s face it, we all know who you are talking about – Coolmore – and all the land they have purchased and how difficult it is for everyone else”.

Speaking to the Irish Farmers Journal following the meeting, Stapleton said it was a huge concern when farm families can’t increase their holding due to such competition on an unlevel playing field.

“The incentives there at the minute around agricultural relief are too easily available for non-farmers,” he said.

“If you have a cap [on agricultural relief] it lessens big time the incentive for Coolmore [and others] to buy, the disadvantage of putting a cap in place is that you put a target there which might be adjusted significantly lower in years to come and impact many family farms,” Stapleton said.

Rival presidential candidate Francie Gorman told the Irish Farmers Journal that the only way to “put manners on” Coolmore was by limiting its access to agricultural tax relief.

“While stallion nomination fees are taxed at 12.5%, they can write off so many costs that essentially they’re paying near to zero percent tax.

“They wouldn’t be able to give millions year after year [for farmland] unless they were getting some leg-up [from other tax breaks],” Gorman said.