Members of South Tipperary IFA joined with colleagues across Ireland yesterday to protest against a range of issues that are upsetting farmers.
The IFA says the protest was in solidarity with farming colleagues in France, Germany and Belgium that have been protesting against reductions in financial support and increases in regulation and bureaucracy. The IFA responded to a call from members in Kilmacthomas IFA that a national protest should be organised in solidarity with European farmers.
South Tipp IFA Chairman Pat Carroll welcomed the strong response from farmers to last night’s protest which was planned over a 48 hour period. Over 100 tractors and associated supporters gathered in Cahir last night and travelled through the town centre and on to Cashel via the old N8 road. The convoy circled the Rock of Cashel and then dispersed.
Mr Carroll says farmers are facing a wide range of issues from increases in Diesel prices, increasing paperwork to comply with Schemes, delays in payments from Schemes, Trade Deals such as the Mercosur deal impacting on farm gate prices and increasing costs due to changes in the Nitrates Derogation to mention a few. Farmers also reject that their industry is at odds with protecting the environment and feel they have been unfairly demonised for producing food.
Farmers attending the event feel that the Minister for Agriculture, Charlie McConalogue and the Government are not responding to their needs and instead “bulldoze through” with changes.
Several farmers spoke of the need for the Government to pay attention in an important year for elections at Local and European level and possibly also a General Election in 2024.
The European Council of Young Farmers (CEJA) of which Macra is a member also protested in Brussels yesterday for dignified living and working conditions. Macra President Elaine Houlihan says “The frustrations being felt by farmers across the EU have been well flagged, yet these frustrations are being ignored. Food production is in crisis, with 6.5% of farmers in the EU below the age of 35, there is little hope for the future of an industry that will age into obsolescence”.
Meanwhile protestors, who described themselves as non-aligned individual farmers, gathered with their tractors outside the Athlone Springs Hotel in Athlone where the Minister for Agriculture Charlie McConalogue was attending the AGM of the Irish Cattle and Sheep Farmers Association. A number of protestors insisted on talking with the Minister but were unable to do so and stayed in the hotel lobby until 1am. They left after the Minister went to bed.