Dairy farmers stave off ‘disturbing welfare claims’ made by former TD

Dairy farmers mounted a strong defence of the sector’s animal welfare record after some disturbing accusations were made by a former east Cork TD at an event in Limerick last Friday, November 29.

Following a panel discussion on the topic at the Irish Creamery Milk Suppliers’ Association (ICMSA) annual general meeting (AGM) last Friday, November 29, Ned O’Keeffe claimed that he knew of some instances where “some unwanted calves had been harmed”.

The former Fianna Fáil politician – who previously served as minister of state for food from 1997 to 2001; and served as a TD for the Cork East constituency from 1982 to 2011 – claimed that the unsettling situation had been brought to his attention and that he was “demanding action”.

“There are a small number of people out there that are going to destruct the Irish dairy industry,” O’Keeffe claimed.

“This has to be stamped out. Now is the time to stop it; not next week or the week after,” he continued.

The panel – which included industry representatives from Bord Bia, Teagasc, Glanbia and Veterinary Ireland – swiftly moved to uphold the sector’s welfare record.

Martin Coughlan, the chair of the discussion, stated that O’Keeffe was “making very, very serious accusations about the industry”.

“I am sure like any business there will be bad apples in every barrel, but there is a very tight eye kept on animals born in this country and there are serious regulations in place,” the chair added.

Unnerved

The audience – predominantly consisting of farmers – also appeared quite unnerved by the claims with one farmer saying: “I think if any farmer here has come across any evidence of this misbehaving, they should straight away report it to the authorities.”

This statement was applauded by the audience.

ICMSA president Pat McCormack then stood up to give his take on the matter. He stressed that “a lump hammer is for a building site and nowhere else”.

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