The President of ICMSA has responded furiously to remarks made in the Dail yesterday by Mick Wallace, TD, when the Wexford independent described Irish dairy and beef sectors as a “short-sighted cash generator” and lumped our farming and food industries in with coal-mining and gas-fracking.
Pat McCormack said that not alone was Deputy Wallace’s comparison deliberately misleading and completely wrong, it also represented, according to Mr. McCormack, “the single most brass-necked instance of selective memory and hypocrisy that anyone unfortunate enough to have heard it would be able to recall”.
Mr McCormack said that Deputy Wallace was one of the most high profile personifications of an industry that just a decade ago had driven Ireland’s economy off a cliff.
“It broke up thousands of families through emigration, driven people to illness and worse, left hundreds of incomplete and depopulated ‘ghost estates’ all over state and had, in short, brought our state – the state in which he now sits as a member of the legislative body – to the very edge of survival reducing it to an economic and psychological rubble from which we have only recently emerged”.
“In 2009 and 2010, after banks and property developer colleagues had wrecked and bankrupted this country, it was the farm families of Ireland and the food sector they built and supply – the only productive sector left standing after the developer-caused explosion – who worked and produced and slowly inched this state back to economic stability,” he said.
“We were the ‘Last Man Standing’ after the developers and failing banks had mowed their way across the Irish economy and to hear Deputy Wallace thrash the very sectors who had played the biggest part in rescuing our country from the wreckage will strike many of us as the single most brass-necked and hypocritical comments that the Irish public have heard in a very long time”, said Mr McCormack.
Mr Wallace said the meat and dairy herds are to Ireland what the coal industry is to Poland and the fracking gas industry is to the United States, namely, a short-sighted cash generator, the expansion of which is undermining the chances of survival of the planet and the people of the global south and in less than a generation the people of the global north.
“We are food insecure in Ireland. We have been a net importer of food since 2000. The climate is changing as a result of our agricultural policy. What is worse is that we are not preparing for the change,” he said.
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Minister for Agriculture, Michael Creed described the analogy between Irish agriculture and the coal industry was ‘rather unfortunate’.
“Ireland has a comparative advantage in grass-based, carbon-efficient livestock production,” he said.
“It can and must do more and will, but it will not close down and have the product the Deputy would put out of business displaced and replaced by beef from South America or dairy products with a far higher carbon footprint.
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