Latest: Farmers take to Dublin streets in combine harvester as protest continues

Update 4pm: The Department of Agriculture has released a statement to say they are happy to facilitate a meeting with the IFA as soon as possible to discuss a proposed crop compensation fund.

The outline of a crop loss compensation scheme has been approved by the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform.

The final terms, conditions and application process for such a scheme have yet to be finalised and published by the Department of Agriculture.

Update 1.29pm: Farmers have brought a combine harvester to the streets of Dublin today as part of an ongoing protest at the headquarters of the Department of Agriculture.

Four farmers are protesting against attempts to place a cap on the crisis fund for grain growers who lost crops due to bad weather in 2016.

They've spent five nights camping out at the Department and say they won't go until they get a deal following ten months of meetings and negotiations.

IFA President Joe Healy gave an impassioned speech to farmers who had travelled to Dublin from all over the country to show their support.

He said they are determined to remain on site until they get an agreement, and will not meet officials again unless a deal is agreed to compensate grain farmers who suffered up to 800% loss of income.

“It wasn’t until last Tuesday that the Department issued a figure of €5,000 – that’s not acceptable, and we won’t accept it,” he said.

He added later: “We can’t and we won’t go away without achieving for them.”

Chairman of the IFA Grain Committee Liam Dunne explained the scale of what they're looking for.

“The amounts of money involved are quite small, the overall budget is not more than €1.5.-2m – which in Department terms is relatively small.

“The amount of crop that people lost due to the very bad weather in September, in a relatively small area of the country, was quite significant.”

John Daly chair of the Galway branch representing grain farmers is protesting in solidarity.

“Farmers from all over the country are here in support, because they know we’re right,” he said. “It’s a just cause…We’re not trying to pull the wool over anyone ('s eyes), this is a severe loss.

“800% of an income lost – that’s not a lie.”

Earlier:

Four farmers have spent a fifth night occupying the Department of Agriculture offices in Kildare Street in Dublin.

They have been staging a protest at the Department's offices since last Wednesday, over attempts to place a cap the crisis fund for grain farmers who lost crops to bad weather during last year's harvest.

A combine harvester will at the protest this morning.

IFA president Joe Healy says farmers from around the country have been travelling to Dublin since last Wednesday to support them.

"They've come from all over the country, from Donegal, Kerry, Longford, Galway, all over the country, every day there's a number of different counties coming up to give support on the outside to farmers that are doing the sit-in on the inside of the Department of Agriculture," he said.

"That will continue - it has gained momentum and resolve each day since last Wednesday."


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