'Timing of protests is wrong - numbers are piling up'
Storm Powell went to Templemore Mart to get farmers' views on the beef protests and forestry planting.
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"The protests have highlighted the difficulties but have gone on long enough," says Michael, a beef farmer on 100ac. "It's now time for dialogue. Price is the bottom line but concessions on age and in-spec bonuses are also vital."
Michael adds: "I will not plant forestry. I have spent a lifetime developing my land. Forestry is best suited to marginal land. Farmers are not the biggest culprits of carbon emissions - we need to look at industry."
"I'm not in favour of the protests," says Denis, a dairy and beef farmer on 100ac. "They have prohibited cattle of 30 months being killed. This age limit needs to be extended to 36 months. All parties, including the retailers, must talk."
Denis is keenly aware of the threat of climate change and is considering planting forestry on 1-2pc of his land but is waiting for guidelines.
A dairy and drystock farmer, Margaret works part time at Templemore Mart.
"The timing of the protests is wrong," she says. "Grass is scarce and cattle are out of age. Numbers are piling up. There will be a glut and this will affect prices. It should have been better planned."
On forestry, she says: "If it would pay me to plant trees and there wasn't too much red tape, I would consider it.
"My biggest fear is fire. It's a high-risk business and takes a long time to harvest. There is a lack of information on replanting the land after forestry. Will there be subsidies for this? People don't want stumps of trees on the land."
"I'm in favour of peaceful protests but don't approve of the obstruction of lorries," says William, who has a suckler herd on 50ac and also works off-farm.
"Some farmers need to sell cattle. We must work together."
On forestry, he says: "I don't intend to plant trees. It's only suitable for wet land. Other options to reduce farm emissions must be explored."
Ger is a drystock farmer on 80ac who also has 75ac of forestry in partnership with his brother.
"Talks are vital at this stage. The beef price must be increased; we need €4 per kilo. We can't pull out till we get some concessions. The 30-month limit must be scrapped."
Ger has planted 75ac of forestry over the past seven years on wet-ish land on an outfarm. "Initially we tried to sell it but then put it into trees. It's the best thing we ever did."
Tom, primarily a dairy farmer on 200ac, says: "I can understand the reason behind the protests but they should stop if progress is being made through talks. Farmers need to get their fair share, and transparency is required."
Tom is reluctant to plant forestry as "once the land is in trees, it's lost to farming". On the Climate Action Plan, he says: "We should be looking into wind energy and other more economic and efficient ways."
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