Irish farmers protest over falling incomes
Hundreds of farmers have protested over falling incomes.
Raising concerns over plummeting milk and grain prices, demonstrators milked a cow and dumped a trailer load of feed for three pigs on the street outside the European Commission's office in central Dublin.
The action was organised by the Irish Farmers' Association (IFA) ahead of next Monday's major protest in Brussels by European farmers when agriculture ministers hold talks.
The IFA claims the average farming income is close to 24,000 euro.
It warned that political interference in markets, the Russian trade ban, severe price volatility and unregulated retailers are combining to decimate farm incomes and undermine the sector.
Dairy representatives said many of its farmers are seeing margins down as much as 92% in the last 16 months.
Some have claimed dairy farmers are f acing income swings of up to 40,000 euro since milk quotas were abolished and prices crashed to a 12 year low.
It is estimated to cost 25 cent to produce a litre of milk in Ireland before farmers pay themselves or farm hands and earlier in the month the market price per litre dropped to as low as 28 cent meaning many farmers could not break even.
IFA chief Eddie Downey called on Agriculture Minister Simon Coveney to take action to remove the technical obstacles which are holding back valuable beef exports to newly opened markets in the US and China.
"There must be real delivery on getting access to new markets," the farmer's chief said.
The IFA claimed beef prices will collapse in 2017, similar to what happened last year, if new markets are not accessed to deal with the increasing cattle numbers expected over the next two years.
The association also claimed that for the third year in a row Ireland's 11,000 full and part-time tillage farmers are facing prices too low to cover production costs.
IFA grain chairman Liam Dunne said: "Growers are forced to produce crops to satisfy bureaucratic requirements rather than respond to market signals.
"The unwillingness on the part of the Commission to control speculative investment and fertiliser cartels has exacerbated income volatility leading to a boom and bust situation for many farmers."
In the pig farming sector, the IFA said many of its members and colleagues across Europe are in a serious loss-making situation as some markets for pork products, including Russia where a trade ban was imposed by the EU, have yet to reopen.