A TD has told the Dáil that “cows’ days are numbered” due to what he said is the “diminishing role” of agriculture in EU policy.

Tipperary TD Mattie McGrath said in the Dáil last week that decisions taken by EU institutions, as well as the government here, suggest a reduction in the numbers of cows

“I raise serious concerns around the fact that agriculture’s relevance in the EU policy sphere is diminishing. It is obvious to all of us,” he said.

“We are witnessing decisions in Brussels, and increasingly in Dublin from Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael, and the Green Party, that seem to indicate that cows’ days are numbered. That is a pity.”

The Independent TD claimed that is “certain” that, across the EU and in Ireland, “increased space devoted to climate and environmental challenges is depriving farmers and the food sector in general of the opportunity to produce food at low cost”.

“The dramatic shift in focus in policy here and in Brussels is leaving farmers feeling as though they are being bypassed by environmental priorities. It is quite obvious to them,” McGrath said.

He added: “We have witnessed the government pushing ahead with forced reductions in livestock emissions, simply because the bureaucrats in Brussels and Dublin want to see this happen.

“This shift in policy is creating considerable problems for consumers, with food inflation on the rise and farmers facing some of the toughest times in recent history.”

He said farmers are being squeezed by “skyrocketing” input costs, such as feed and energy, while weather conditions are an additional factor.

McGrath also said that the unveiling of the EU’s flagship environmental plan, the European Green Deal, has resulted in the area of competence for agriculture within the policymaking areas of the EU institutions “shrinking”.

The European Green Deal, the TD added, is “not only detrimental to agriculture but also to rural economies”.

“Yet it has been embraced as a silver bullet by this government, despite its damaging effects on rural communities,” McGrath said.