TEDx Longford: ‘Irish farmers can make money using less chemicals’

The president of the Irish Cattle and Sheep Farmers’ Association (ICSA), Patrick Kent, promises to deliver a “hard-hitting” speech when he addresses an upcoming TEDx event in Longford.

Kent is the latest speaker to be announced for the first TEDx conference in the midlands – taking place in Longford’s Backstage Theatre on Friday, June 29.

The theme for the debut event is ‘Change Makers’; with Kent set to discuss the topic of: ‘Feed, Food and Health – A Farmer’s Perspective’.

Speaking to AgriLand Kent said that his arguments will be “based entirely on fact” and bedded in real life issues.

However, he acknowledges that his words may raise eyebrows in some quarters.

I will probably generate some controversy.

Kent intends to touch on issues such as the overuse of preservatives and sweeteners. He will highlight how such risky food trends are becoming widespread in Irish society.

“These are all things that need to be properly spoken about at least,” said Kent.

Crops and chemicals

Kent also intends to pose some questions over the impact of chemical usage on crops.

“It is my belief that the country has been hijacked by the idea that we might, in the future, use GM (genetically modified) crops.

“I question the advice farmers are getting on how to get maximum profit from their crops. Farmers have been given advice to maximise output – not optimise output.”

Irish farmers can make money using less chemicals.

“Irish farmers are in a position to command a higher price for our GM free, grass product. We need to supply good quality foods; and we need to get a good price for it.

“We need a sustainable system and a sustainable price,” he explained.

‘The bottom line’

The president of the ICSA believes that Irish farmers need to be prepared for what the future holds – particularly with Brexit and changes to the Common Agricultural Policy post-2020 fast approaching.

We need to adjust our vision going forward. We need to address the concerns of the farmers and the consumers.

“Farmers main concern is with the bottom line. Major concern is being placed on the fact that they are being asked to produce more for less.

“That pressure has been unfairly placed on farmers; this is an issue that needs to be addressed. Farming is becoming a less attractive occupation because of the pressure,” Kent concluded.

Further details

The president of the ICSA will be one of six national and international speakers to present their ideas on a wide variety of topics at the conference.

Other speakers will include:
  • Award-winning journalist, Gemma O’Doherty;
  • US activist, Chas Jewett;
  • Founder of FEASTA and Sustainable Projects Ireland, Davie Philips;
  • Businessman and competition advocate, Seamus Maye;
  • Local educator and environmentalist, Anna Kavanagh.

There is a limited number of tickets – which cost €12 each – for the event; it is scheduled to get underway at 7:30pm. People looking to find out more can follow the event on both Twitter and Facebook.