Letter to the editor: Farm to Fork calls for ‘affordable food’…not ‘cheap food’

I refer to the recent letter to the editor about the EU’s Farm to Fork Strategy from Bláth Cooney on August 5.

Blath is correct; our top-quality beef should not be marketed as a run-of-the-mill commodity. The Farm to Fork Strategy is to be welcomed. Hopefully it will be implemented as soon as possible.

I would point out, however, that the strategy calls for ‘affordable food’ – not ‘cheap food’.

Food is ‘cheap’ at the moment, but it cannot remain like this. Food prices will have to increase so that farmers, and all involved in the food chain, can get a fair price for top-quality produce. This is enshrined in the strategy.

Where I fundamentally disagree with the previous letter is on the topic of organic farming. Organic farming should not be knocked. It is a sustainable method of producing top-quality, healthy food.

It also protects biodiversity. Importantly, chemical fertilisers are not used. For every tonne of manufactured fertiliser produced, 6.7t of greenhouse gases are released into the atmosphere.

From Noel Lynam, Co. Limerick

Implementation of Farm to Fork

In the aforementioned ‘letter to the editor‘, Bláth Cooney proffered her opinion on the EU’s widely-publicised Farm to Fork Strategy.

In that letter she noted, among other things:

The recent publication of the EU Farm to Fork Strategy [and Biodiversity Strategy] is significant. However, while the document is long on aspiration it’s decidedly short on detail.

Also Read: Letter to the editor: ‘We need to differentiate grass-fed animals from feedlot stock’

The commitment to support and monitor the operation of the unfair trading directive is, given the huge imbalance in the food supply chain, very important and very necessary.

It is widely acknowledged that the primary producer is the least powerful player in this supply chain. The farmer is also an easy target for exploitation.

The marketing of our top-quality beef as a run-of-the-mill commodity has resulted in the suppression of prices. What’s more welcome – especially now – is the proposal to promote Protected Geographical Indication (PGI) status for quality foods produced in the EU.

This has been mooted previously for Irish suckler beef, but little progress appears to have been made. Perhaps this is due to the failure to differentiate grass-fed animals from feedlot stock.

Differentiating our high-quality, environmentally-friendly beef from inferior products, whether produced here or imported, is crucial to achieving a fair price.