Reacting to the recent exposé of cruel treatment of Irish calves, the Green Party’s Spokesperson on Agriculture and Animal Welfare, Pippa Hackett stated:
“Live export is a dirty word in Irish agriculture, and the vast majority of consumers, and many farmers, are uncomfortable with this unethical trade. Ireland will export more young, unweaned calves than ever this year, and this will be viewed by many with disgust and criticism. Live export will only ever be as good as its latest controversy, and there have been many reported breaches in animal welfare legislation over the past number of years. These issues will not be going away any time soon.
“The live export of older animals for inhumane slaughter is also on the increase, with more markets recently opened to north Africa. Some of these countries have little or no animal welfare legislation, and the treatment and slaughter of these animals when they arrive is repulsive. Shame on those who think that this is acceptable, and shame on Minister Creed and Bord Bia who have actively promoted growth in this sector.
“Farmers have been misled by their farm organisations that live exports are “vital” to keep a floor on the market, yet despite these claims, the beef price has never been worse. The only people really benefitting from this sector are a small handful of exporters.
“The Irish farming lobby are well able to criticise those encouraging people to eat less meat and dairy, however by shamelessly supporting the export trade with such enthusiasm, I think they themselves are doing the best job in accelerating change in eating habits.
“We must provide consumers with the highest possible welfare meat and dairy produce. A model of food production that requires a two-week old calf to endure a tortuous journey, or young cattle to travel even further for brutal slaughter, does not fit that bill. A serious re-think is necessary, because consumers will not stand for it. It is essential that the Irish agriculture works hard to regain its image and reputation – this is a time bomb waiting to explode.”
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