ICMSA president Pat McCormack said the comments passed to himself and the association’s general secretary John Enright by IFA members last September was the biggest disappointment of his presidency.

Speaking to the Irish Farmers Journal after a highly successful AGM in Clare last week, a month before he steps down from office after six years at the helm, McCormack said “to be honest, being open and transparent with our membership was always the priority”.

“It’s very important that we listen, that we make independent analysis.

“One thing that did touch me was the number of people who contacted me the day we went into Agriculture House [past an IFA protest last September]. People from various farm organisations and breed societies, who said “Pat, you did the right thing”.

“I believe we did the right thing to go to the negotiating table with the minister, to keep the lines of contact open. The one thing that disappointed me was to be called a traitor or a scab, and in particular my colleague John Enright who has given 27 years service to farm families.

“It’s easy to stand on a footpath and to start passing derogatory remarks, and then to read in the media where they [IFA] won’t hold certain meetings in certain parts of the country because they don’t want derogatory remarks made to people. We need a level of consistency there.

McCormack said one of his greatest achievements in the role was actually for beef farmers.

“Ironically, one of the greatest achievements was the beef talks in 2019, coming out with the O3 and 4+ fat scores,” said the leader of the mainly dairy-farmer oriented organisation. “And to see us tap into our potential to produce milk, to see young people come into the dairy industry and be viable”.