Farm families have to be supported and secured in the future by direct payments and not by the market, President of Ireland Michael D Higgins said at this week’s Ploughing.

“Farm families’ security cannot be delivered by the market and will not be secured by the market. It needs a social protection and it needs a social floor,” he said.

He acknowledged how making the transition to more sustainable farming is a challenge for farmers.

“The European Union has been promoting a United States style of agriculture for a very long time, and it is hard to break away from what has often been imposed upon you, but do it we must,” he said.

The bond between farming and nature’s resilience is incredibly important, he stated.

“Farmers, through the generations, have possessed unparalleled insights into the connection between climate and the repercussions of unpredictable seasons, droughts, shifting seasonal patterns, and intense storms, all of which have now become a lived experienced brought about by climate change with the attendant decline in biodiversity that is increasingly apparent,” he said.

Below cost

The President also argued that the below cost selling of food must be stopped.

“We must put an end to the destructive practice of below-cost retail. In these challenging times, consumers should support those who sustainably produce our food,” he said.