I was raised on a small farm with a small dairy herd in a rural area. But, decades of failed Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael agricultural policies have made that impossible now.

Pushing farmers into more and more intensive models of farming has resulted in the destruction of many small family farms which were once at the heart of our agricultural model.

The government’s current policy prioritises economic output over environmental protection, and still fails to provide proper compensation to large parts of the farming community.

We need to have a sustainable and successful agricultural sector to fight the threats of the climate crisis, and to have that we need to fix this imbalance.

The only way that farming will remain a viable livelihood for generations to come, is if we take immediate measures to safeguard and protect our natural environment.

We need to shift to a more sustainable model of farming, and part of that is a need to gradually reduce the number of cattle in a way that doesn’t reduce farmers’ income.

The same Department which incentivised farmers to increase their herds, must incentivise farmers to reduce them. Farmers have to be compensated as part of a fair transition.

I believe there is an opportunity here for an exciting transformation of our farming model. But we must be brave enough and honest enough to have the conversations necessary to start that journey.