Opinion

This is the golden age of farming in Ireland

A recent report, produced on behalf of the World Health Organisation, suggests that organic farming practices can feed the world.

But this is provided that food waste levels are slashed to almost zero and – wait for it – we cut back on the level of meat products in our diet.

I have no hesitation, whatsoever, in backing any initiative that will deliver reduced levels of food waste.

But, in my opinion, the reference to meat-eating habits within the report is simply a sop to the vegetarian and vegan lobbies.

This, in turn, will provide the aforementioned groups with an opportunity to have yet another pop at modern livestock farming practises, claiming them to be totally unfit for purpose.

Such claims are, of course, totally ridiculous. These same people continually hark back to what they regard as a golden age of farming when the sun shone all the time, animals didn’t suffer from disease and welfare problems had yet to be discovered.

As far as I am concerned, we are enjoying the golden age of livestock farming right now.  

One hundred years ago half the cattle in the country were riddled with TB, they spent winters out in all weathers and succumbing to malnutrition and every related disease one could imagine.

Oh and when animals did succumb, which would have been a pretty common occurrence, they were buried where they fell – probably many weeks after death.

Today, at least, cattle and all other classes of livestock are fed properly; they have decent accommodation to spend their winters in and there is a very active veterinary profession on-hand to ensure that welfare standards are upheld in full.

Now I am not saying that everything is perfect. There are still rogue farmers who, for whatever reason, do not do their jobs properly. But the systems are in place to ensure that these people are identified.

It also goes without saying that animals must thrive, so as to deliver a profit back to the farmer.

And this will only be achieved under circumstances that see the welfare and other management needs of animals met in full. That’s a bit of a no-brainer really.

In all honesty, I don’t have a problem with the attitude taken by those espousing vegetarian and vegan lifestyles, not to mention those animal welfare groups that like to cast aspersions on modern farming practises.

My problem lies with the farming bodies in Ireland  and their inability to promote the positive aspects associated with our livestock farming practices.

We have a tremendously positive story to tell. And it’s time the public at large got to see and hear all about it.

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