The Irish Farmers' Association's (IFA) opposition to a dairy cull scheme was reiterated by candidates for the association’s deputy presidency at hustings over the last week.

Both Alice Doyle and Pat Murphy expressed support for the IFA’s position on any dairy cull at the association’s hustings in Castlebar.

They were responding to questions from the floor, where farmers asked why the organisation had not supported cull payment proposals since many dairy farmers were being forced to reduce cow numbers anyway because of the derogation changes and other environmental considerations.

The possibility of a dairy cull was back in the news this week after Minister for Agriculture Charlie McConalogue said the proposal remained on the table.

However, both Murphy and Doyle maintained in Castlebar that the IFA was correct to oppose a cull payment.

Fill a gap

“I don’t agree with culling cows,” Murphy told the meeting.

“We were out in the [United] States earlier this year; they were only laughing at the idea that we were going to cull our cows and cut back,” he said.

The American view was that they would fill any gap in the world dairy market that resulted from the Europeans reducing cow numbers, Murphy maintained.

“When you go down the line of compensation, you’re giving in at that stage. If its 200,000 cows this year, is it going to be 500,000 cows in a few years’ time?” he asked.

“We need to dig in the heels,” the Galway candidate maintained.

“We represent farmers; we represent food producers. And I want to continue producing food.

“And if a farmer decides that production costs are wrong and he wants to pull back, that’s his decision and we have to support him in that,” Murphy said.

Similar views

Doyle expressed a similar view.

She said the IFA position was agreed when the fight to hold derogation at 250kg N/ha was still in the balance and any indication that the organisation was willing to take compensation for culling cows would have undermined that stance.

“I can see where some farmers are coming from on this, but if we do agree with compensation, then it appears that we are agreeing that cows should be culled,” Doyle explained.

“There may be a time when that [a cow cull] has to come and if it does, compensation should be there for farmers,” she added.

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