An estimated 15,000 to 20,000 mostly millionaire farmers and their supporters took part in the IFA Day of Action in Dublin on Tuesday.
They sent a message to Europe and the government that farming matters, and there should be no cuts to the €1.6bn which Ireland receives yearly from the EU Common Agricultural Policy. CAP funds make up 85% of the EU funds that come to Ireland.
IFA also voiced their opposition to proposals to redistribute individual farmers’ annual payments, arguing that the most productive farmers could lose out.
IFA president John Bryan warned, "Farm output will drop and the raw material for Ireland’s ambitious growth plans in the food sector will not be available if the EU Commission gets its way."
He also warned against the Government heaping extra costs and taxes on top of productivity and work.
"The Government need to get serious about improving our competitiveness and not damaging it further with more taxes and costs on the hard-pressed business and productive sectors," he added. Protestors in Dublin also called on the government not to cut the €300m it spends on farm schemes, in next December’s budget.
Farmers from as far away as West Cork and north Donegal came from IFA’s 947-strong branch network in more than 200 coaches, and put on a show of strength in the city centre from 11.30am to 3pm, accompanied by about 16 agricultural vehicles, proceeding to the Government Buildings area of Merrion Square and Kildare Street.
It was the biggest demonstration in the capital for years. The protest brought traffic to a standstill.
The Taoiseach and the Minister for Agriculture said they respected farmers’ right to protest — but could offer no guarantees.
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