(dpa) - Thousands of farmers were to march through Dublin Thursday to protest proposals they say threaten agriculture in Ireland as European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso visits the country.
Many beef and dairy farmers were to bring their businesses to a halt for several hours at midday in support of the protest, national broadcaster RTE reported.
Farmers are incensed at the stance taken by EU Trade Commissioner Peter Mandleson in the present round of negotiations to liberalize rules on world trade which they claim would decimate the domestic livestock industry and impose cuts in dairy, grain and other sectors.
In an interview with RTE radio, the head of the Irish Farmers' Association, Padraig Walsh, said: "I cannot see farmers wanting to support a commission that has sold out on family farming and food production right across Europe. That's my message for Barroso today."
The cuts could lead to a loss of 50,000 jobs across rural Ireland and 100,000 farmers being made redundant.
The demonstration commences at 1:15 pm (1215 GMT) outside Ireland's EU building in Dublin and then proceeds to Dublin Castle where Barroso is to address the National Forum on Europe, a public debating forum on the European Union.
Ireland is the only EU country to vote in a referendum in June to ratify the EU Reform Treaty, the replacement for the controversial EU constitution that French and Dutch voters rejected in 2005, and it is feared that many farmers will vote no if next month's World Trade Organization deal is not to their liking.