Farmers speaking at the Irish Farmers Journal beef and sheep open day at Tullamore Farm on Tuesday warned that they feel under attack from environmentalists amid ongoing Government negotiations on the emissions target to be set for agriculture.

“We’ve been under attack for the last 12 months from environmentalists,” said Sligo part-time suckler farmer Trevor Boland.

He said that “no Irish farmer is polluting the planet” and suggested farmers need to do more “to get our message out there”.

The suckler farmer claimed that “there is no other sector in the Irish economy” that would accept the level of targeting that farmers face when it comes to the climate.

Boland was speaking as part of a panel on the future of Irish beef farming at the event in Co Offaly.

Farm income

On the future of beef farming, Boland said: “At the end of the day, if you’re not generating an income from your farm, you don’t have a farm.”

He criticised how farmers are made out to be a “charity case” and insisted this is not the case. He said that suckler beef farming “can be profitable” and that he hoped to still be in the sector in five years time.

Next generation

Also speaking as part of the Irish Farmers Journal panel, Kildare full-time beef farmer Thomas O’Connor said that when he finished agricultural college 10 years ago, there was no mention of environmental pressures then.

You’d be better off at the Galway Races this week than going off to feed cattle this winter

He described how he has since “invested heavily” in his farm, but that due to environmental policy and the direction of farm payments, this investment is now jeopardised and he will be “caught in the cross fire”.

“You’d be better off at the Galway Races this week than going off to feed cattle this winter. The next generation of people aren’t going to do it and we have to look at it like that,” he said.

The Kildare farmer said that while he may not buy as many cattle this autumn as he did last year, he can’t “leave the sheds empty”.