FA Presidential candidate Francie Gorman joined colleagues from across the country today to protest outside the Fine Gael party think-in in Limerick over delayed farm payments, proposed changes to a nitrates derogation and the need for supports for the vulnerable livestock sector.

Organisers of the protest repeated their call on Agriculture Minister Charlie McConalogue to oppose an EU Commission decision to introduce a tightening of rules around the spreading of manure from January.

Francie Gorman said the Minister and his Department were forcing farmers to the brink with the new rules, which he claims would force farmers to reduce their herd and acquire land to abide by the proposed increased limits.

Stephen Canavan, the County Chair of Galway IFA (right) pictured in Limerick today with Francie Gorman, Chair of the IFA’s South Leinster branch and IFA Presidential Candidate.

“Farmers will not accept anything less that the nitrates decision being reversed and a total review of banding. These moves combined will have a devastating impact on the smaller family farm, especially fresh milk producers,” commented Mr. Gorman.

He continued, “The IFA has put forward a credible solution that will help Ireland meet its targets under the nitrates directive and avoid the inevitable loss of jobs and income that the new rules will bring about if introduced in their current form. The situation is being exacerbated by the fact that an early decision on the CAP strategic plan has led to payments not being made on time.”

Mr. Gorman said IFA members will step up their protests unless the Government changes its approach.

“We will bring our protest with even greater numbers to the National Ploughing Championships and at Department of Agriculture offices across the country until such time as the Minister starts fighting for our sector and the 170,000 people that it employs,” he concluded.