ICSA: Onus on Varadkar to protect vital beef industry

The Irish Cattle and Sheep Farmers’ Association (ICSA) has claimed that Leo Varadkar’s comments on eating less meat to mitigate climate change are “reckless in the extreme”.

Yesterday, Monday, January 15, the Taoiseach said that he had been trying to eat less meat to reduce his carbon footprint.

The Taoiseach was criticised by ICSA president Patrick Kent, who said: “As one of the most important beef exporters in the northern hemisphere, it is very unfortunate that our Taoiseach should be calling into question the sustainability of Irish beef production.

In 2018, agri-food sector exports amounted to €13.6 billion, with the value of meat and livestock exports comprising €3.97 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 said that Irish farmers are “leaders” when it comes to sustainable beef production and climate change mitigation, and that they produce high-quality food.

“Other industries need to be just as proactive, and the Taoiseach should remember that before making disparaging remarks about world-class production,” argued Kent.

“Mr. Varadkar would be better served putting his efforts into preventing vast quantities of inferior meat products entering the EU from the other side of the world,” he added.

Kent also asked the Taoiseach to clarify that he wasn’t suggesting that people should eat less sustainably-produced Irish beef and lamb.