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‘We will make environmental changes … but it’s very hard to fund all of this out of our own pockets’

Liam Delaney with John FItzpatrick, Chair Laois IFA Photo: Denis Byrne

The chairman of Laois IFA’s environmental committee has said that farmers are fully  embracing the ever-increasing list of measures – but there must be greater support from the Government and EU to do so.

Liam Delaney from The Heath was speaking at Friday’s IFA demonstration in Portlaoise which was part of a nationwide day of action to highlight farmers frustrations with the proposed Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) reforms and climate change challenges.

“We want to highlight to people in power – politicians, councillors – that farmers haven’t gone away anywhere. The low income sectors are struggling and there are new CAP cuts coming down the tracks,” he said.

“Our one-time production payments are all going down the road of environmental measures.

“All farmers are on for looking after the environment and we all want to leave it in a better place for the next generation but it’s very hard to fund all of this out of our own pockets.

“There is no other sector being asked to take it out of their own wages. It’s very unfair. If the government are serious about environmental measures they have to put in a budget and give farmers recognition.”

He says that farmers have “made massive improvements” all over the country with environmental measures but that farmers are an “easy target” when it comes to the discussion about emissions.

And he says that farmers are constantly showing they can adapt to change – as they have over the past year due to the restrictions.

“In fairness to IFA, people might think farmers are old-fashioned or stuck in their ways. But we’re after having a lot of team meetings every month (over the past year).

“There has been massive work. Since I’ve been elected chairman I’m after been on 80 or 100 meetings. It’s great. People from all over the country. It’s great that IFA – there’s an awful lot of work in the background.”

And technology has changed what can be done in the farming sector too.

“Lads 80 years of age buying cattle on iPads,” he laughs. “Lads figuring it out when they have to.

“It’s amazing what people will change. And that is farming – we will make environmental changes. At the end of the day there is a lot of things farmers are doing good for the environment but we don’t hear that.

“Farmers are a very easy target. Cutting the national herd is what people are on about but that’s only an easy option. There are loads of other options.”

SEE ALSO – In Pictures: Laois farmers out in force as IFA seek to highlight climate change challenges and CAP issues