It is of the utmost importance that the agri-food policy changes recommended to Government by the Food Vision dairy group does not endanger Ireland’s low-cost, emissions efficient system of dairying, Irish Farmers' Association (IFA) president Tim Cullinan has said.

Cullinan spoke at Virginia Show in Co Cavan ahead of the day’s showing and judging of stock.

“On display today, along with the fantastic dairy animals, is a pride in what dairy farmers do. These women and men have a passion to produce some of the most nutritious food in the world in a truly sustainable manner,” he said.

“The Food Vision dairy group is looking at proposals which will have potentially significant implications for the future of dairy farming in Ireland.”


IFA dairy chair Stephen Arthur stated that a potential lowering of the maximum permitted stocking rate on derogation farms was agreed without proper consultation.

“It is very disappointing to see how the Minister [for Agriculture Charlie McConalogue] and his officials agreed to potential changes in stocking rates as part of the latest nitrates action plan with absolutely no consultation,” said Arthur.

“Farmers have already been burdened with significant additional regulations relating to nitrates. The Minister cannot stand by and let further restrictions be introduced which could threaten the viability of Ireland’s grass-based dairy farming model,” he commented.

Supports, not restrictions

The IFA president stated that restricting the dairy sector could put both the viability of farm families and the rural economy under threat, in a move which would ultimately shift food production to production systems with higher emissions profiles.

“It is paramount that any proposals arising from this group do not endanger the low-cost, carbon-efficient dairy production model we have in Ireland,” Cullinan added.

“Any moves which may restrict production here will result in production moving to regions with a much higher carbon footprint.”