MEP Chris MacManus.
Chris MacManus, Sinn Féin MEP for the Midlands Northwest, has raised concern over the negative impact a 2-hours to slaughter travel restriction could have on some farmers in his constituency. The restriction was mentioned in the PGI application for Irish grass-fed beef, submitted by the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine to the European Commission.
A PGI is a protected geographical indication. This means Irish beef, which was produced under certain conditions, would become a protected and recognised brand, hopefully encouraging people to pay more on the European market for the quality assurance.
MacManus commented: “Firstly, I wholly support Ireland’s application for a PGI on Irish grass-fed beef. We must do whatever is possible to ensure our farmers are getting the maximum return for their hard work, and effective marketing will play a part in accomplishing this.
“It is important the application demonstrate the uniqueness of the product, which means having strict production criteria. It is this detail, which will ensure the success or failure of the proposal, and it is here I am unconvinced the correct balance has been struck.
“Farmers live in rural and often isolated areas; therefore, stipulating they must only use slaughterhouses within two hours of their farm will limit their options drastically. In many cases, they will be left with only one option.
“The fear is that this situation leaves them open to exploitation. What a farmer may gain per kilo for having the PGI grass-fed label may be wiped out by the reduced price they will get at the factory gate. Unfortunately, they would have no other option but to accept it.”
“I fully agree animal welfare must be a priority and long journeys can be detrimental. However, it is a false dichotomy to say it must be animal welfare or a reasonable living for farmers.
“Our approach must be based on science and research, rather than pulling numbers out of the sky. It is clear a proper impact study was not done on this restriction and the Department took the approach of act now and apologise later.
The Sligo based MEP encouraged those working in agriculture to engage with his party; “Sinn Féin is currently in a process of engagement with Irish farmers, because we want to hear from those at the coalface to tell us the problems that exist and how we can deliver policies that will save our family farm network.
I would encourage any farmer who will be negatively affected by the proposed travel restriction, or any similar measure, to please get in touch.
“Those wishing to participate can complete the online survey at: surveymonkey.com/r/SFAgri”