Letter to the editor: Are we ‘shameless’ in how we define ‘grass-fed’?

I was sad reading last week’s letter from Mr. Fitzpatrick.

Also Read: Letter to the editor: ‘Those who are loudest receive attention’

I can just imagine how disappointed he would be if he knew how Irish cattle – dairy and beef – are fed.

He might be shocked if he went onto a dairy farm and saw rations, some containing high percentages of GMOs [genetically-modified organisms], being fed morning and evening – every day of the animals’ lactation.

On progressive dairy farms, a cow might eat 1.6t per year of unregulated, cheap, high-carbon-footprint feed – some imported from environmentally-destructive countries.

What about the rules?

Then, if he found out that Bord Bia and the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine referred to the resultant animals [that ate this feed] as simply ‘grass-fed’, would he be disgusted?

Add to this the fact that native [Irish] growers who adhered to the stringent rules imposed by the EU and the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine – to ensure that food-chain integrity is protected – have been priced out of the market by sub EU standard rations.

Then, if he further found out that such imports have increased by around 4,000,000t since quotas were removed, while native feed usage has reduced by 300,000t [during the same period], I suspect he might despair.

That’s why native grain growers are “in despair”. Nobody in the agri-food sector will come to our rescue, as they fear that by exposing ongoing “misrepresentations” that they will harm sales of Irish food – which is a valid point.

This is why we keep knocking on the doors of the department, as well as Teagasc and Bord Bia, behind the scenes – in a bid for change. Are these state bodies shameless in how they define ‘grass-fed’? What does ‘Origin Green’ mean?


Consumers trust Bord Bia to provide them with the facts, in respect of all food carrying the ‘Origin Green’ logo. Is some of this just spin. I’m tempted to think of something someone used to say: ‘Let’s not have the truth spoil a good story’.

I have always maintained that native grain and pulses should be at the centre of the ‘Origin Green’ brand, complimenting the wonderful green grass that we grow in Ireland.

It’s so sad that we produce what is probably the safest, lowest-carbon-producing, traceable grain and pulses in the world. Why do our state agencies choose not to showcase this to national and international consumers?

Our own farm uses all of our own produce in our large beef unit, including cereals, beans and oilseed rape. Our [resultant] daily weight gain is up with the very best.

From Ollie Whyte, Whyte Bros Farms, Co. Dublin