Dairy farmers have said the “constant attack” on their livelihoods by “arrogant elements” of the environmental movement will be a key issue in the general election.
The Irish Creamery Milk Suppliers Association (ICMSA), which has 14,000 members, published its Guide to General Election 2020 on Wednesday. ICMSA president Pat McCormack said a copy would be sent to all candidates in rural constituencies.
The main issue facing farmers, he said, was the “relentless pressure on farmer income and farmer margin”, which was central to the protests and blockades that farmers have been involved in around the country since the summer.
However, Mr McCormack was also heavily critical of elements of the “environment movement” and said any election candidates who utter “glib” messages will be challenged.
“The second issue that is going to dominate this election for farmers is the constant attack on their livelihoods and the economic viability of rural Ireland by the most aggressive and arrogant elements of the environmental movement,” he said.
“Farmers accept the reality of climate change and accept the need for change, but we reject absolutely the idea that farmers alone will have to change their way of life.
“Every part of society will have to contribute to the increased costs of changing the way we produce food. Any candidate that comes out with ill-informed, glib anti-farmer messages will be challenged on their grasp of the facts.”
Mr McCormack said the ICMSA is a “categorically non-political organisation and does not endorse specific candidates or a specific political party”.
But he added that the group “will not tolerate a campaign where farmers are made the whipping boys for anyone’s pet projects or concerns”.
On the beef crisis, Mr McCormack said farmers across all sectors are “receiving the same prices as their parents received 30 years ago”.
“Everyone sympathises, but we don’t want sympathy anymore,” he said. “We want fair prices. We want action. Politicians who go to farmers’ yards and doors are going to be told that forcefully and straight out.”