January 16, 2019
Ireland cattle association's president criticises remark by Irish prime minister
The president of the Irish Cattle and Sheep Farmers' Association (ICSA), Patrick Kent, has described comments by Taoiseach (Ireland's prime minister) Leo Varadkar regarding consuming less meat to mitigate climate change as "reckless in the extreme."
"As one of the most important beef exporters in the northern hemisphere, it is very unfortunate indeed that our Taoiseach should be calling into question the sustainability of Irish beef production," Kent said.
Varadkar had made his comments in response to a question as to what he was doing personally to reduce his own carbon footprint.
"In 2018, agri-food sector exports amounted to EUR13.6 billion (US$16 billion) with the value of meat and livestock exports comprising EUR3.97 billion (US$5 billion) of that total. Surely, the onus is on Mr Varadkar to protect such a vital industry; his cavalier comments however will do nothing but undermine it," Kent added.
"Ireland's farmers are leaders when it comes to climate change mitigation. We work tirelessly with all relevant stakeholders both here and in Brussels to deliver the highest quality produce while also delivering on food security, traceability and sustainability. Other industries need to be just as proactive and the Taoiseach should remember that before making disparaging remarks about world class produce. Mr Varadkar would be better served putting his efforts in preventing vast quantities of inferior meat products entering the EU from the other side of the world."
Kent also called upon Varadkar to clarify that he wasn't suggesting people should eat less sustainably produced Irish beef and lamb.