‘Agriculture is the solution not the problem’ – Senator Ian Marshall

“Agriculture is the solution, not the problem. It is important that we keep ahead of our critics and to be proud of what we do,” independent senator Ian Marshall says.

Senator Marshall was speaking today, Friday, January 17, at the Irish Cattle Breeding Federation (ICBF) and Sheep Ireland Genetics Conference 2020, at the Heritage Hotel, Co. Laois.

In his 15-minute speech, the senator applauded the work farmers do and described farming as “not just a job but unique”.

A good news story

He also credited the work that has been done in the Irish farming sector in terms of reducing emissions and the high standards to which animals are treated.

Senator Marshall said: “From 1990 up to 2016 that there has been a 27.8% reduction in Irish agricultural emissions.

“Furthermore, in that same period, there was a 43.8% reduction in soil emissions.

“Farming is known for producing food, fibre and fuel. However, it is far more than that – it is about communities and providing jobs; it is a job that is misunderstood and misrepresented.

It’s important that everyone in the agriculture industry keeps ahead of its critics.

“Although, we do have challenges such as: environmental; animal welfare; human nutrition; and genetically modified organisms.”

Continuing, the senator said:

“In terms of the environment – people tend to forget – that we continue to produce enough food to feed the ever-growing global population.

As a country, we are very efficient when it comes to producing commodities such as meat and dairy.

“We have a really good news story when it comes to agriculture. In Ireland, we farm animals to the highest standards possible as well as adhering to the five freedoms of animal welfare.

“I was in Leinster House this morning and I was listening to the radio. The topic of discussion was veganism and about these animal rights groups.

“It said that food manufacturers are trying to capitalise on these new trends. In 2018, the number of vegan products in food stores was 17% and this rose to 23% in 2019.

However, that doesn’t mean people are going vegan. In fact, only 1% of the population is vegan while 88% continue to eat red meat and poultry.

“There is no doubt that people are cutting back on eating meat. However, one-third of people that said they were cutting back due to the environment, another third said it was due to health reasons and the other third said it was because of money – not because they are turning vegan.

“The vast majority of people still want to eat meat. However, in order to continue to produce these commodities and show how important the agriculture industry is we need to support the farmers in every way possible,” senator Marshall concluded.