Rallies around the country saw farmers gather in Cavan, Roscommon, Laois and Cork as they voice their concerns about the future of Irish agriculture ahead of next week's budget.

Hundreds of farmers gathered in Co Cavan this morning. They drove in tractor convoy to the office of the Department of Agriculture in the town.

The protest rallies kicked off in Cavan at 7am and then moved to Roscommon at 11am, Portlaoise at 4pm and 8pm in Cork city.

'Save Irish Agriculture' is the call to farmers from the leadership of the IFA, who have organised the rallies to highlight a number of worries.

Cavan IFA Chair Elizabeth Ormiston said farmers had turned out to defend their livelihoods.

She said the Government needs to "cop on" before the indigenous industry in this country "is gone to the ground".

Minister for Agriculture Charlie McConalogue said he understands the anxieties of farmers waiting for the outcome of the next Common Agricultural Policy plan and climate change targets that are due to be clarified in the coming weeks.

He said he will fully support them in setting a strong direction for Irish agriculture.

Speaking on RTÉ's Six One News, the minister said in recent weeks he had visited over half of the counties in the country to engage with farmers directly.

He said he is committed to ensuring that Ireland continues to produce world class sustainable, nutritious healthy food in a world leading manner but to do it better by playing its role in reducing the footprint of that food production.

Donal Kenny from Co Westmeath said he had travelled for the rally "because of the savage cuts in CAP". He said the new CAP will put farmers of business.

Seamus Dolan from Ballyconnell in Co Cavan said if all the proposals on climate change, nitrates and CAP come to pass, "it will close the door on agriculture in northwest Ireland".

He said in this region they are very dependent on grazing, sucklers, dairy and beef, and the proposals being talked about could be detrimental to their future.

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IFA President Tim Cullinan said the Government "wants to cut productions and add more costs to farming".

Speaking from Cavan, where he attended this morning's rally, he called on the Government to engage with representatives and come up with a "joint plan to go forward for our sector in the coming years".

Mr Cullinan said the farming sector has done "quite a lot already" in relation to tackling climate change, and is "willing to do a lot more", but there must be engagement with the Government on the issue.

Irish farming faces one of its biggest challenges in the coming weeks and months, according to the IFA, because of the recently passed Climate Action Bill.

Ireland has a target of a 51% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2030, but the IFA said this was "selected" without consideration for the consequences for Irish farming, or the economy.

Soon-to-be-published carbon budgets will include legally binding emissions for Irish agriculture.

Because of this, Mr Cullinan said previously in a statement: "Every policy pursued by the Government is now designed to reduce output and hit our most productive farmers. This will have huge consequences for Irish farming".

He also highlighted the next Common Agriculture Policy, due to run from 2023 to 2027, and for which the Agriculture Minister is currently finalising Irish plans.

"Based on the current proposals, 25% will be sliced off every farmer's basic payment to fund eco schemes. Many farmers will not be able to qualify," he said.

Adding that: "Those who do will suffer significant compliance costs. As a result, some of our most productive farmers will see their incomes devastated."

The IFA has also highlighted forestry, horticulture, the pig sector and dairy sector as areas of particular concern at the moment.

"The Government needs to sit around the table with farmers and agree a plan at farm level for the next five to ten years," Mr Cullinan said.

The IFA President had urged farmers to attend today's rallies, either on foot or by tractor.

Additional reporting by Conor Kane