Thousands of farmers protest over Cap reform
The demonstration would send a message to the Government to protect farmers from European and domestic cuts, he said. He told RTÉ's Morning Ireland “the big immediate decision that has to be made in Europe is the Cap budget for the next seven years”.
He said the IFA opposed the flattening and regionalisation of the Single Farm Payment as proposed by the commission because it would lead to a drop in production.
"Over 10,000 farmers will come to Dublin today to signal to Taoiseach Enda Kenny and Minister Simon Coveney that they have to fight a battle in Europe to defend our vital national interest . . . very clearly we are saying that any cuts will be unacceptable.”
He said it will be difficult for Mr Coveney to “totally wear the green jersey” when he becomes chairman of the Council of Agriculture Ministers next year. In the meantime “he has to get a deal that works for Irish farmers”.
Mr Bryan argued farming was one of the few growth sectors in the domestic economy and that any budget cuts would threaten that growth.
“We’re saying clearly to the Irish Government they have to have some interest in growth because if they continue to just cut cut cut without targeting the productive sector they are going to cost the economy more jobs and prevent growth and increase in exports.”
Mr Coveney said he had “no problem with farmers coming to Dublin today”. People need to be reminded about the importance of the agricultural sector in Ireland, he told Today with Pat Kenny.
He said he agreed with the farmers and “rejected” the proposed region-based scheme. However, he added that there should be some redistribution of support from farmers who benefited substantially from single farm payments to those who have done less well.
He also agreed that he needs "to try and get the key Irish issues resolved" before he chairs the Council of Ministers.
Some farmers on online discussion boards expressed reservations about the march, given the difficult financial situation facing most sectors.
Friends of the Irish Environment also opposed the protest, saying proposed Cap reforms were vital and could breathe new life into rural Ireland.
Director Tony Lowes said the proposed changes would be “a salvation” for farmers on disadvantaged land as the changes would benefit less intensive farmers. “The result of this reversal in payments would be a transforming boost to rural economies with the payments going directly to small farmers and local economies, supporting towns and villages,” he said.