Irish Farmers' Association (IFA) president Tim Cullinan lambasted both Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil in his AGM speech on Tuesday, stating that the Green Party tail has been wagging the Government dog.

The Greens won 12 seats in the last general election, he said.

“Between them, the two larger parties in Government have over 70 seats. They need to stand up for our sector. And even when the Greens get their way with more regulations, their extremist wing, An Taisce, heads to the courts to try and finish us off.

“They seem obsessed with shutting down farming, particularly dairy farming.

“They are now bringing the Government to court in a bid to quash the nitrates action programme. Despite all the changes, they want to get rid of the derogation,” he said.

Dairy expansion has been a huge success story for farmers, rural Ireland and the economy, the Tipperary farmer said.

“We will be in the court to represent our members. And we will fight tooth and nail to keep farmers in business.

“I would ask fellow farmers to hold their nerve as we work through all of this. We have a lot to be proud of and the world is waking up to the reality. Food is the real gold,” he said.


On emissions, he said that the sector has a ceiling for emissions in 2030 which is 25% below emissions in 2018.

“To the naysayers, the doubters and the sceptics, I want to make it very clear: if we get the right supports and fair measurement, agriculture will reach its target.

“I am convinced that we can get there, possibly ahead of other sectors,” he said.

Cullinan said that a comprehensive plan, which is agreed with farmers, is needed and that farmers cannot have a plan “based solely on Green Party thinking”.

“We’ve seen their true colours. Two years ago, their MEP Ciarán Cuffe wrote to our banks advising them not to lend to farmers and last year the Dublin Lord Mayor wouldn’t allow the live animal crib to continue outside the Mansion House.

“Well, the banks are still lending to farmers and we had our live animal crib in Dublin.


“Our sector is here to stay. Farmers have a level of resilience and agility that is not always recognised,” he said.

The IFA said that the sector’s focus is firmly on doing what they do best - “producing food and playing our part in meeting the climate challenge”.

“Emissions, and their reduction, is the target. And that’s what we will focus on.

“The Government has the opportunity to bring farmers with them, in a way that achieves maximum buy-in,” he said.

He said that forcing farmers to rewet their land is not the way to go.

“Doing a deal with an investment house from the UK to buy up land for forestry is not the way to go.

“And locking farmers out of an agri-environment scheme is definitely not the way to go,” he said.

He is expected to call on the Minister the engage with farmers to agree a way forward.

“What we also want from the Government is honesty. Farmers are straight dealers, so deal with them in a straight-forward manner.

“Saying there are no plans to reduce production is just untrue,” he said.

Undermining farming

Cullinan said that a very vocal, but very small, minority are constantly trying to undermine farmers.

“We live in an era where we have full accountability for every penny our politicians spend during election time. Our Minister will be late today as the Dáil deals with one such issue.

“Meanwhile, we have a secret society called Go Vegan World spending hundreds of thousands on adverts to undermine our sector.

“Nobody knows where the money comes from. When we complained to the Advertising Standards Authority in 2019, they washed their hands of it.

“The Government needs to regulate this space. Any organisation running a political campaign must show where their money is coming from,” he said.


At the IFA’s farming and climate summit in Thomond Park earlier this month, “the Minister said there would be no reduction scheme for our suckler beef herd”, the IFA president said.

“But a reduction is already under way. The suckler sector is being strangled by cuts in supports and increased regulation.

“We need to hear from the Minister what his proposals are to provide economic viability for our vulnerable beef, sheep and tillage sectors.

“This has been identified in the beef and sheep Food Vision report as a key enabling factor to deliver the efficiencies proposed for the sector.

“We need a plan for the sustainable growth of all our sectors. It is time to stop talking them down,” he said.

Review of association

He said that the IFA national council has been working on a review of the association.

“We all recognise that change is needed if we want the organisation to prosper.

“The only people who can make change happen are those in the room today. Let’s make sure our association is match-fit for future campaigns,” he said.

“We won’t be driven out. We are farmers. We are food producers. We are here to stay. The IFA will stand up and fight for Irish farming,” he said.