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Compulsory de-stocking of family farms already here in effect says ICMSA president


Stock image by Owen Breslin.

Stock image by Owen Breslin.

Stock image by Owen Breslin.


ICMSA President Pat McCormack has questioned Government Ministers claiming compulsory de-stocking of family farms need not happen and is not being sought.

Instead, Mr McCormack said that compulsory de-stocking has, effectively, already started.

Mr McCormack said that there are family farms who will have to de-stock at the start of 2023 and may have to further de-stock in 2024 due to policies agreed by this Government.

The net effect of this, he feels, will be the removal of the family-farm model, paving the way for its replacement with industrial-scale farming.

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This policy, he said, is being driven by the changes introduced under the Nitrates Regulations.

The ICMSA President added that politicians – both local and national – seemed completely unaware of the enormous effects the changes would have on full-time commercial dairy farms.

Calling on the Government to go back to the EU and renegotiate the Nitrates Derogation, he noted that the changes would ‘take out’ the level of farms who simply did not have the resources available to them to take up any of the so-called ‘diversification options.’

Mr McCormack cited the example of a family farm of 30hectares that, as of this year, can milk up to 84 cows. He said that, with cow banding and with the potential for the maximum N level per hectare to fall from 250 to 220kgs, that very same family farm may only be allowed to have 62 cows in 2024.

“That reduction of 22 cows effectively wipes out the economic sustainability of this farm, and replicated through the neighbouring and similar farms, it undermines the viability of the wider rural community”, said Mr McCormack..

“We have always said that farmers are happy and willing to play our role in this historic drive to sustainability, but we seem to be the only element that remembers that there was meant to be room for economic sustainability as well.

“The Government seems to have decided that there’s no need to consult or work with our farming communities...It’s up to our rural representatives to insist that our farming communities get at least the same level of consultation and consideration that the Government seems very happy to give everyone else,” said Mr McCormack.