IFA deputy president Brian Rushe said he understands why farmers might feel like they’d be better off if Ireland was outside of the EU.

“If you look at it, you can understand why farmers are saying that,” he said, during a discussion on the cut to the nitrates derogation at an Irish Farmers Journal panel on EU agricultural policy at the Ploughing.

Rushe accused the European Commission of using the cut to Ireland’s derogation as a means of eroding the competitiveness of the country’s dairy producers.

“Farmers are worried and you’d have to worry. Was that the play in the Commission all the time? Was it the Commission’s goal to erode Ireland’s competitiveness as a dairy producer in order to level the pitch for the rest of the 27 [member states]?” he asked.

The IFA deputy president said that therefore, he can “understand why farmers might be getting a bit nervous or sick and tired of what Europe is doing and some of the restrictions that are impacting on us”.

He also called on farmers to "stop blaming the Commission, stop blaming Europe" when it comes to such restrictions.

"This happens at home. The result, or where we are now, happens at home and as a farmer we must do more.

"What we must do more [of] comes under the [Nitrates Action Programme] and that is for Ireland to decide,” he said.

Rushe added that he “can understand why farmers would be getting a bit nervous and a bit tired in terms of the Commission when our own people are blaming the Commission for where we are today”.