Farm Ireland

Sunday 18 March 2018

Day of Action gets thumbs-up, but concern at public reaction

Declan O'Brien

Declan O'Brien

More than two-thirds of farmers support the IFA Day of Action scheduled for October 9 -- but more than 40pc believe the protest will be viewed negatively by the public.

A survey of 604 farmers conducted by the Farming Independent at last week's National Ploughing Championships in New Ross found that 68pc supported the protest.

However, 16pc of farmers said they were against the Day of Action, while a further 16pc said they were undecided on the move.

The Day of Action will involve farmers withholding the sale of produce for a single day.

A major farmer demonstration in Dublin is also scheduled for the day.

The IFA said the protest aimed to highlight a range of farmer grievances including the difficult harvest, problems in getting higher prices for produce from supermarkets and fears over the current CAP reform proposals.

Speaking at the Ploughing Championships last week, IFA president John Bryan claimed there was strong support among farmers and across the agri-business sector for the Day of Action.

While the results of the Farming Independent survey supported this assertion, they also highlighted fears that taking farmers on to the streets of the capital might provoke a negative reaction among the general public.

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When asked how they thought the protest would be viewed by non-farmers, just 20pc of respondents said the reaction would be 'positive'.

In contrast, 44pc said the Day of Action would provoke a negative reaction among non-farmers, while 15pc said the reaction would be 'neither positive nor negative' and 21pc were 'unsure'.

Those supporting the protest claimed that something needed to be done to highlight the severe difficulties in the farm sector this year, which they blamed on the disastrous summer weather, lower prices and higher input costs.

But opponents questioned the thinking behind the Day of Action, pointing out that every section of society was struggling at the moment.

They argued that the impact of wage cuts, job losses and higher taxes meant farmers' grievances were unlikely to get a favourable hearing from the public.

"I doubt if we're going to get a whole lot of sympathy when we land in our thousands in Dublin. This Day of Action wasn't thought out," said one Co Laois dairy farmer.

The protest has also received poor support in a poll on the online discussion forum with just 8pc backing the initiative and 92pc against it.

However, the protest received strong backing across all age groups in the Farming Independent poll.

Some 67pc of farmers in the 20-40 age bracket expressed support for the protest, with 14pc against and 19pc unsure.

In the 40-60 age bracket there was 66pc support, with 18pc against and 16pc unsure, while 75pc of farmers over 60 backed the protest, with 11pc against and 14pc unsure.

Indo Farming