The “exact” same pressures being exerted on Irish farmers are being experienced across the EU and farmers across the EU are “exhausted, both mentally and financially”, Irish Creamery and Milk Suppliers Association (ICMSA) president Denis Drennan has said.

Drennan was speaking from Brussels, where he is leading the ICMSA representation at Monday’s European Milk Board (EMB) demonstration for dairy farmer groups from across the EU.

“As part of [the] EMB, we have participated in numerous meetings and conferences and we have seen this disillusionment gradually build to the present state of almost complete loss of confidence in the ability of the EU and individual governments to understand the problems.

“From an Irish perspective, we see no signs that our Government understands that more and more farmers are just ‘voting with their feet’ and leaving active farming.

Farmer protesters in Brussels. \ Pat O'Toole

"We’re now at the point where we see farmers actually dissuading their children from following them into this life. Our French colleagues are saying the same, as are our German, Danish and Italian counterparts.

“The problems are the same right across the EU’s farming sectors and the answers are the same too: the income for farmers is nowhere sufficient for the workload and stress involved or the importance of the food produced. That has to change,” Drennan said.