Protest 'worked very well'

As the last tractors left Merrion Square, IFA president Tim Cullinan told the Irish Farmers Journal he thinks today’s protest “worked very well” and “delivered a clear message to Government”.

He described the “tough decision” made earlier this week as “there could have been 10,000 farmers here today” but said it was important to curtail numbers due to the revised pandemic guidelines. He thanked the “Dublin community and gardaí” who he said worked well with the IFA in facilitating today’s event.

Minister must come forward with more funding - Cullinan

IFA president Tim Cullinan tells farmers from west Cork to Donegal, gathered in Merrion Square: “All of the [climate measures] are about production” and says farmers are very worried about what they’re being asked to do, facing a minimum reduction of 22% in carbon emissions.

He references the recent KPMG report, commissioned by the Irish Farmers Journal, which he says points to a cost to the agricultural sector of anything up to €1.1bn per year and the possible loss of 10,000 jobs as well.

He says he is very disappointed at the level of CAP funding being apportioned to eco schemes.

Productive farmers will lose more from their Pillar I payments than they need to under EU rules, says the IFA president.

He says that carbon tax funds should be completely separate from Pillar II co-financing.

What’s needed? Cullinan calls for proper funding for farmers, suckler cow payments, €30/ewe and a proper environmental scheme for tillage farmers.

The livestock sector is being “completely ignored” in this CAP reform, he says.

The minister must come forward with more funding, he concludes.

No one else has to deal with the level of uncertainty that young farmers do - Macra

Macra na Feirme president John Keane says that the CAP, Climate Action Plan, nitrates plan and more will dictate how farming will operate over the next 10 to 15 years.

He wants a plan of action that is thought through, and to move away from the current lack of joined-up thinking.

“No young person in any other sector works with the lack of certainty that young farmers do,” he says. Listen to his full speech here:

‘No farmers, no food’

Among those supporting the protest is Amitoj from the Punjab region of India.

Farmers in India have been protesting for over a year, and have just succeeded in getting controversial laws repealed.

“No farmers, no food,” he says. “Farmers are the basic necessity of any community - water, food and air are the basics. We are here to support them in any way we can.”

Among those supporting the protest is Amitoj from the Punjab region of India.

‘We in Government need to work with farmers’ - Minister Simon Coveney

Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney says it really infuriates farmers to be talked about as a group that won’t change. Speaking on RTÉ’s The Week in Politics, he says this is a time of change for farmers and the Government needs to work with the sector on a roadmap for the future.

Merrion Square: tractors arrive

John Boiler Murphy from Co Wexford led the convoy into Merrion Square on a combine. Cornie Buckley, accompanied by his six-year-old grandson, drove from west Cork to join the demonstration.

Leitrim Chairman Des McHugh at the IFA's Save Irish Farming protest in Dublin.

‘Proper calculation of emissions required’

IFA North Tipperary chair Imelda Walshe said today’s protest is about showing the Government the role of agriculture as an indigenous rural sector which must be protected.

She said farmers in North Tipperary will be “decimated” by the current proposals within the next CAP. Walshe outlined the work farmers are already doing when it comes to reducing carbon emissions, and said they “won’t be found wanting” in doing more.

However, she called for Government to acknowledge this by undertaking a “proper calculation of emissions” on all farms in order to have a “full picture of the amount of carbon sequestered”.

IFA North Tipperary chair Imelda Walshe.

Heading for the city centre

A busload of farmers heads the convoy as it heads into town to congregate in Merrion Square.

Ready for the off

IFA president Tim Cullinan thanked those who’ve made the trip up today, especially young farmers who he says “we must create a future for”. Gardaí welcome farmers to “the big smoke” and encourage all to abide by all traffic precautions.

Munster IFA chair Harold Kingston has travelled from Cork over the weekend:

Young farmer support

Macra na Feirme and UCD's AgSoc are among those supporting the IFA rally, as well as Agri Aware.

Shaun Lafferty and Stephen Claxton from UCD Ag Soc pictured ready for the off as the convoy prepares to head into the city centre.

Young farmers from Carlow and Kildare say they’re protesting in Dublin today as they need a future in agriculture.

Tillage farmer Louise Carroll described the environmental credentials of crop growing and said these were not listened to in the Government’s Climate Action Plan. The Carlow woman highlighted the rising cost of farm inputs including the “price of diesel” as one of the main issues affecting her livelihood and future in farming.

Young farmers at IFA protest

‘Lack of credit for farmers’

Clare IFA Dairy Rep Andrew Dundas

Andrew Dundas from Clare described the “lack of credit” given to farmers for the carbon mitigation measures they’re “doing already”. The Clare IFA dairy representative is concerned about the losses farmers will experience under the next CAP and says there’s no future in the sector for young people. Dundas travelled from Ardnacrusha this morning with members of Clare IFA.

‘We need to be careful or we’ll end up with a shortage of farmers and of food’ - Cullinan

Tim Cullinan will lead the IFA into the heart of Dublin city this afternoon, in what will be a truncated, COVID-19-affected protest.

Why are farmers from every corner of the country coming to Merrion Square? What is the message they are sending?

“It’s important that we explain what we are doing within farming to the public at large,” the IFA president told the Irish Farmers Journal.

“There is a false narrative being painted around farming by some detractors. We are part of the climate debate part, but we are part of the solution, not just a problem to be dealt with. Farmers are ready and willing to play their part in reducing emissions, but there needs to be a clear plan.

“There also needs to be new funding for what is a new challenge. Trying to solve climate change with the CAP is not the answer, there aren’t enough resources to go around,” he said.

IFA president Tim Cullinan speaking in Roscommon town outside the Department of Agriculture office recently. \ Finbarr O’Rourke

“In terms of the CAP, we need to go back to the drawing board. Eco schemes don’t need to be at 25%, we already are devoting huge funding in Pillar II to two separate eco schemes.

“Pillar II needs more funding, in particular around the targeted schemes. The minister is also guilty of double accounting when he says there is 59% co-funding for Pillar II.

“It’s only 59% because he is including carbon tax funding. It was a Government pledge to keep the carbon tax money outside of and separate to CAP. It’s actually only about 49% co-funding, the same budget as before for a much deeper challenge.

Third time around

“This is our third time to highlight the need for proper engagement with farmers to develop a coherent plan that will provide a living income for farm families,” Cullinan said ahead of the Dublin protest.

“We started off in June, when we highlighted the importance of farming to local towns in every county in Ireland. We moved on to the four regional protests last month.

“I said at the time, that if the Government don’t start listening we would have to bring it to Dublin. There is no proper plan with how we deal with climate. There is a massive ask of farmers, but yet we can see larger countries are doing nothing, and everyone continues to use coal and fossil fuel.”

Farmers crossing the River Shannon in Athlone on Saturday en route to Dublin. \ Finbarr O’Rourke

Future of family farming

“We want a future for young people in farming. There has to be a sustainable living for them,” IFA president Tim Cullinan said.

“That was to be a huge focus of the day of action, showing the face of family farming, and the future of family farming. We need to be careful or we’ll end up with a shortage of farmers and of food. The warning signs are already there.We’re eating into resources all across food production.

“This is real, it’s deeply concerning and it’s unprecedented,” he concluded.

“This Government needs to get a clear message that farmers are not backing out of this.”

Farmers gathered at the Irish Farm Centre for the IFA's Save Irish Farming demonstration.

The route

The tractor and machinery convoy will leave the Irish Farm centre and head along Davitt Road before travelling up the quays towards Talbot Bridge.

They will cross the bridge on to Lombard St into Westland Row, onto Clare St where the street will be closed off to allow tractors to travel against usual traffic flow. They will then turn to Kildare St towards Merrion Row before congregating in Merrion Square South.

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Farmers en route to Dublin for IFA protest