Brian Rushe, IFA deputy president: “People are making money. They’re riding on farmers’ backs and farmers’ backs are getting broke. That is an absolute fact.

“Diversification is losing its meaning. There is no point in supporting farmers through attractive schemes to diversify into a sector that no market exists.

“If the market isn’t there long term, that’s signing farmers up to something that’s going to lead them into financial ruin.”

Stephen Arthur, IFA dairy chair: “We have to stop talking riddles here. Farmers are getting hit with the nitrates. At this minute in time, the excretion bands are taking cows out of herds.

“It’s pitting farmers against farmers, it’s upsetting the social ecosystems in rural communities. You’re persisting on taking out the cows stealth-wise.”

Kevin Comiskey, IFA sheep chair : “You’re talking about €12/ewe in the Sheep Improvement Scheme. Twelve euro is 3c a day, that’s not a key payment, minister. We have to get €30. It has to be got. If we don’t, we will not survive.”

Brendan Golden, IFA livestock chair: “We need to know how you propose to fund what we need to develop our beef industry into a sector that’s going to deliver around our emissions.

“I know it’s been said time and time again, the market will have to pay. But when the market pays, I’ll be happy to acknowledge that.”