‘Innovation is key’ as Aubrac society celebrates 20-year anniversary

The Irish Aubrac Cattle Breed Society celebrated 20 years going strong at the weekend – during which guest speaker Mairead McGuinness said the organisation’s very existence “points to ambition and a drive for innovation and efficiency”.

The MEP told the gathering on Saturday night at the Killeshin Hotel in Portlaoise, Co. Laois, that increasing price volatility and challenges such as Brexit require innovation at farm level.

“But these big challenges also require a big political response – which is why it is vital to defend the CAP (Common Agricultural Policy) budget for the future.

“This week, we will see the first proposals from the budget commissioner about the shape of the overall EU budget post-2020 – there are indications of possible cuts to the agriculture budget, but these must be resisted,” she said.

The MEP said it is essential that member states fully understand the key role played by the CAP in providing high-quality food to EU consumers and the delivery of environmental public goods by farmers.

In this area, more will be demanded of farmers and if this is the case then more – not less – support via the CAP will be required.

McGuinness also spoke of the need to address problems in the food supply chain, describing the European Commission’s proposal to ban unfair trading practices as very welcome.

Also Read: EU Commission’s plan to outlaw unfair trade practices unveiled

“It is a vital first step in a wider movement towards greater transparency and fairness in the chain,” she said.

McGuinness with members of the Irish Aubrac Cattle Breed Society. Image source: Mairead McGuinness Twitter page

Referring to the Aubrac breed, she said it dates back to the 17th century and the Benedictine Abbey of Aubrac in France.

It is noted for its ability to survive and thrive in difficult and challenging conditions.

“The breed reminds us of European culture and spirituality and how French/Irish cooperation today is leading to better outcomes for farmers.

“I was delighted to meet a delegation from the French Union Aubrac led by vice-president Matthieu Causse.

“The Aubrac survived and thrived because of committed breeders of the like of those involved in your organisation, the Irish Aubrac Cattle Breed Society, who brought the breed to Ireland over 20 years ago,” she said.

McGuinness said the breed’s versatility and low maintenance is working for Irish farmers, with 170 herds now in Ireland.

“It takes time and huge dedication to build a successful herd.”

She congratulated chairman of the Irish Aubrac Cattle Breed Society, James Donnellan, and all his colleagues.

“I’m delighted to be with you to mark your 20th celebrations and I have no doubt that you will continue to go from strength to strength,” she said.