“I’m sickened at the minute – because between extreme veganist campaigns and talk about the environment, we farmers are being treated like criminals.”
That was the view of Laois IFA grain chairman Kieran McEvoy, speaking at last week’s General Election debate in Rosenallis, organised by the IFA.
In a passionate address to the nine Laois-Offaly election candidates, he said that farmers in Ireland are being over-regulated and not given near enough credit for the high quality of their produce.
“I started farming at 16 years of age, I’m 45 now, I’m 29 years farming. I’ve looked after my environment because that’s where I come from and I need to get credit for that. It’s populous now to blame us for the environment.
“I am a food producer and I’m 29 years cutting hedges, tidying grounds, using the correct amount of fertilisers, using the correct amount of slurries, and I want credit for that!
“There was three crop rules brought into this country – nobody knew what they were (and) they were unworkable in a lot of situations.
“On my own farm I’m using it but there’s parts of this country where those rules don’t work.
“You (politicians) need to wake up and to talk about environmental scheme after environmental scheme – I want to make money out of producing food, growing grain. We’re importing nearly 4 and a half million tonnes, why?
“Because it’s coming in from sub-standard countries with no rules, no regulations. We’re feeding somewhere between 29 and 30 million people out of this little country.
“We’re as efficient and as good at it and better than most. The critical mass in tillage, it could disappear out of the country completely. It happened in the sugar beet industry. It could happen to grain too.
“Well I’m not going to stand by and let it happen, as grain representative in this region.
“I’ve minded the environment for the last 29 years on my farm. My father done it before me, my grandfather done it before him and please god the next generation will do the same.”
The 2020 General Election candidates that attended the IFA General Election debate were: Marcella Corcoran-Kennedy (Fine Gael), Charlie Flanagan (Fine Gael), Pauline Flanagan (Fianna Fáil), Sean Fleming (Fianna Fáil), Pippa Hackett (Green Party), John Leahy (Independent), Carol Nolan (Independent), Brian Stanley (Sinn Féin), Peter Ormond (Fianna Fáil).