Patrick Kent was in ‘fly swatting’ form last Saturday morning

ICSA President Patrick Kent was in fine form on last Saturday’s RTE Countywide programme with Damien O’Reilly.

He was responding to the alleged abuses inflicted on Irish cattle in Turkish slaughterhouses by the welfare organisation Animals International.

His initial approach was to put all of the claims down to ‘some form of vegan plot’, following this up with the assertion that welfare infractions can be found in every country, if organisations like Animals International are prepared to look long enough and hard enough for them. It really was vintage Kent – a masterful exercise in fly swatting!

The ICSA President went on to point out that he will be visiting Turkey later this week. So let’s hope he does get a realistic perspective on how Irish cattle are being treated, once they leave this country.

Courtesy of his interview, Kent rightly made the point that Ireland’s Department of Agriculture oversees a welfare-focused certification process, where live exports are concerned. This includes the husbandry procedures followed with the cattle prior to departure and their subsequent management while on the high seas. But is this sufficient?

Should we really care about what happens to the animals raised on Irish farms, once they reach foreign soils? Or, as Damien O’Reilly so eloquently put it, do we simply take the money and run? All our farming organisations point to the vital role that live exports can play in maintaining sustainable cattle prices for Irish farmers.

Currently, both the ICSA and IFA are calling for the greater use of exports as a means of strengthening competition in the marketplace for stock. But what sort of message does it send out, internationally, if we are seen to be doing business with countries that may not put the same focus on animal welfare as we do here?

Patrick Kent made the point that it makes no economic sense for Turkish importers to mistreat cattle produced in Ireland, having paid top dollar for them in the first place.

And he’s right. So let’s hope he comes home with some pretty upbeat news from Turkey, both in terms of what happens out there on-farm and in that country’s meat processing operations.