Farming & Fisheries

IFA takes ‘air rage’ protest to the city

March 4th, 2024 9:24 AM

By Kieran O'Mahony

Up to 100 farmers travelled from Cork Airport – where they highlighted the expansion of the airline industry – to Cork County Hall for the monthly Council meeting on Monday as part of their Enough is Enough campaign to highlight frustration with increasing regulation. (Photo: Andy GIbson)

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FARMERS from across West Cork joined their Irish Famers Association (IFA) colleagues for a major protest in Cork last Monday morning to highlight their anger and frustration with both government and EU policies on agriculture.

The convoy of about 60 tractors gathered at Cork Airport to emphasise what farmers believe is the unfairness that sees the airline industry allowed to expand, while farmers have to meet tight emissions targets.

From the airport, the convoy numbers swelled on its way to the County Hall as Cork County Council was holding its monthly meeting for councillors.

The event formed part of the IFA’s ‘Enough is Enough’ campaign, and Cork Central IFA chair Matt Hurley handed a letter to county mayor Cllr Frank O’Flynn outlining the industry’s concerns.

Farmers say increasing EU regulations are putting extra financial pressure on them at a time when the costs of doing business have increased significantly.

Farmers driving in convoy from Cork Airport on Monday morning (Photo: David Creedon)


Speaking to The Southern Star, Tadgh Healy, chair of West Cork IFA, said they were protesting to express the frustration of farmers at grassroot levels.

‘It’s a failure of policy towards agriculture and new measures being introduced, being bombarded onto farmers, which is almost akin to a land grab … with the likes of new forestry programmes,’ said Tadgh.

‘The nitrates situation, and in particular the inability of the Commissioner to listen to farmers at ground level, is important too.’

He said that Ireland has a grass-based system where animals are outside for longer, in contrast to many other areas in the EU and, as a result, Irish farmers need the 250kg nitrates system in place.

‘We are a food producing nation and we do it well, so why stop that and send it on to an area that is less efficient and not as good as us?’ he asked.

Con O’Leary, Munster IFA chair was amazed by the turnout with one farmer milking his cows at 4am in order to attend the protest.

‘It’s a measure of the concern and anger among farmers,’ he said.

‘We see Dublin Airport is being expanded by 25% and that’s the exact same figure farmers are being given for a reduction in their emissions.

‘The airlines are saying their expansion won’t affect things as they are starting to use sustainable aviation fuel, which is in fact bio-fuel made from crops grown by farms.

‘While we are growing them as farmers the emissions we incur growing them are going to be attributed to our agricultural emissions while being used for aviation.

The real twist is that if we fed that crop to our cows it would be considered extra emissions.’

The IFA campaign will continue up until the local and European elections in June.

Clonakilty IFA members out in force at County Hall (Photo: Andy Gibson)

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