Minister for Agriculture Brendan Smith got a hostile reception from farmers in Cork this afternoon as they protested about changes to REPS.

The Minister was in Ballineen in west Cork inspecting a new cheese manufacturing plant

A demonstration of up to 500 farmers was organised by the Irish Farmers' Association to voice their opposition to the cuts in payments of the Rural Environmental Protection Scheme.

There was a peaceful demonstration by the farmers as the minister arrived at the plant just before 11am.

However, when he attempted to leave later one of the demonstrators lay down in front of the minister's car while others banged on the roof.

They delayed Minister Smith's departure for about 15 minutes.

A number of gardaí were reportedly knocked to the ground. One witness described the incident as 'quite violent'.

IFA President Padraig Walsh who is in Brussels, said there was a lot of anger among farmers.