Tuesday, February 11, 2020
Policy ideas! As usual, unsolicited!
I would dearly love to be considered for joining the Seanead to contribute to policy as I have a huge insight into the agricultural workings and problems, for health, the environment, the economy and people and animals in supply chains. I also have a huge capacity for joined up thinking, solution finding and some skills in communicating and engagement. Having said that, I don't think I was being invited!! Still, that never stopped me before!
Public Contracts and Funding
My experience includes entering the public tender process and learning about how that system, criteria and national policy is failing the vulnerable groups the provisions are supposed to serve. For example, legitimate care, respite and rescue groups ruled out of the public funding stream, by companies that have merely managed large contracts before. For example, Horse Contractors and Dog Shelter directors, affiliated to a body parts factory in Latvia, receive €950 euro per horse they seize, no portion of that money goes towards the care, rehoming or rescue of those animals. There is an incentivizing of seizing and slaughtering stray and traveller animals. I have shared solutions on effective solutions to address responsible pet ownership and organic, high welfare care for farm animals.
Farm Support in Pricing
Working in wellbeing (clearing personal and geopathic stress, using the old art of divining) I have supported many farmers and have a good relationship with the Farmers Support Group. Many of them are very isolated, depressed and have not been able to pay their feed bills from the last two winters. The reason for this is that the price they get for cattle has gone down from €4.50 per kg to €3.40 per kg in the last four years. The last government sought an agreement with the meat industry, when the farmers were protesting, and managed to raise the price by just 5 cent per kg. Green Party intervention on farmers’ behalf to enforce the full euro per kg, recovery in price and value of irish cattle would be in line with their declaration to support smaller farmers. There will have to be something done about the price fixing but also the weight-fixing of Larry Goodman, Queallys, Kepak and Dawn and co too. They are refusing animals below a certain weight and above a certain weight, which is a narrow enough window but impossible when 90% of their weighing machines were found to be outside reasonable compliance. This must happen before carbon taxing, to get the rural communities committed to the party and financially able to make positive changes and or take risks in their farm practices; like reducing herd numbers and non-chemical land management. I have written a detailed support plan for the protesting farmers and sent it to media and councillors.
Legal Advocacy in Meat Industry Fraud Case
I have worked as a legal advocate for a Technical Manager in the meat industry who was responsible for 7 meat plants of the Queally Group. She made a protected disclosure to Simon Coveney and we went to the circuit court. I wrote the affidavit (as my father was a high court judge and wrote a lot of the unfair dismissal law in the UK). I have a lot of evidence of their food safety fraud and environmental non-compliance. This would be useful to revisit as that was in 2015 but their practices have not improved. Also the practice of Halal-approved slaughter (therefore animal is fully conscious) should also be stopped as illegal in our welfare law. I am delighted that the Live Export is to be stopped, as a policy of the Green Party.
Advocate for farms adhering even to current agrichemical bans. And farms transitioning from animals to arable.
I have supported farmers who are transitioning from animal agriculture to crops. They alerted me to that fact that Ireland would need to ban 1) the import of vegetables grown with chemicals that are banned here, as it gives an unfair advantage. 2) That sales must be guaranteed for Irish produce, as currently supermarkets are refusing Irish harvests as they’ve already ordered in loads from abroad, where the climate is warmer and harvest time more predictable.
Education is important here and I would like to be involved in the education legislation group discussion too. People need to understand the benefit of clean food and the accumulative dangers of chemical fertilizers, preservatives, cleaning practices as well as pesticides and herbicides. In term of education, I have worked for 5 years with a senior mentor in the Steiner Pedagogy. I learnt the importance of safety, creativity, how we learn and the need to explore and share rather than learn by rote. I also see that we need to resist the government move to contract out early years education provision, for infants between 6 months and 3 years. Instead, parents should be supported in extended maternal or paternal leave, to provide the one to one safety that very small children need, in order to socialize and function confidently when they do go out to school.
I have had two radio shows, Healing From Harmony Hall about how clearing inner pollution and negativity leads to peace, collaboration and a healthier outer environment and New Directions, a social change show. That has led me to working for the last decade with Highbank Organic Orchards; the only food producers to give awards in addition to receiving them. I have recorded and shared workshops there from Biochar – in purifying water and correcting digestive issues for livestock , to Fermenting to Natural Agriculture, which is a step beyond organic principles. I have been an educator, via my blog on issues for the environment, people and animals in supply chains, food and health, since 2007.
I am also qualified in Horticulture myself and have done Stop Food Waste’s Master Composters, through the Carlow Council, which also has a teaching component. I am a BHS qualified horse riding and care instructor. In addition, I have HACCP approval to run a food business, teach cookery and how to go plant-based in terms of nutrition and shopping etc, here at Harmony Hall Bioarchitecture Retreat and Think Tank. I also teach piano, guitar and voice.
As a farmer myself, I can report how prohibitively hard farm shops make it to get organic feed. For example, Redmills supplies organic horse nuts, layers pellets and pig nuts (from a company called Morans, in undyed/unprinted, paper sacks which is brilliant) but Redmills still have not put those products on their computer system (I have been buying them for twenty years) and that means you wait for at least half an hour every time you collect feed and they only keep 2 or 3 bags in stock, but it is still not on the stock or price list, so they have to go and look again for what they have and how much to charge you. It would be a hard sell to farmers to take that step, until we refuse the feeds laced with pesticide and probably GMOs too. I have bought one item made by Redmills themselves in a paper sack rather than plastic, so it could be insisted that all their products be sold in paper, so at least bags could be shredded for bedding or used to light the stove after work.
Equally, it has been speculated that pet food constitutes 40% of the problem with animal agriculture emissions, probably as there are so many entrails to process from meat factories. I have been buying vegetarian and vegan organic dog and cat food for 10 years and it is getting harder rather than easier to source. Redmills ‘used to produce a vegan recipe’ but they stopped, as there was not much call for it. They could be encouraged to start production again, especially if the meat-based ones were being phased out and vegetarian ones supported.
I had my County Vet inspection for a herd number last summer and they had not even heard that Ireland and more recently, specifically Kilkenny Council had declared a climate change and biodiversity loss emergency. They had made no adjustments whatsoever to their inspection criteria. They laughed when I mentioned the five freedoms and even said they would prefer concrete to bedding, as it was easier to clean.
Also council workers were still using Round Up on rural roadsides and strimming in nesting season. They said they had received no memo of a change in practice either. I see a simple solution, that all the departments are sent a report, outlining relevant and manageable changes to their practice; obviously council workers should cease spraying and farms should be asked to half or quarter the numbers of animals in intensive housing conditions, because of their consequent reliance on antibiotics to keep them alive. Also, if we only allowed sucklers rather than instant removal of the calf, it would mean calves get their colostrum and develop their own immunity.
Talking of building immunity, I would like to be considered for the Health group too. We need to support the health food shops as the only source we have of most of our nutritional needs, now that our food is mainly devoid of them. I refer to minerals, vitamins, antioxidants and microbial profiles that either were never present, when fruit are artificially ripened or grown in inert soil, or are lost during cooking and other processing. The new tax, even at 13% has already taken its toll.
I have a surprising ability to uncover corruption and information that can be used to push for social change and clean food. For example, I discovered that Teagasc was developing GMO potatoes, in Carlow. So that it would not become common knowledge, they recruited Plant Pathologists from abroad. One of these came to stay here for a month before her interview to practice her English. Staying in touch, I gathered a lot about their experiments and non compliance and let the council know, who took the matter to Europe.
Talking of responsible technology, I have also brought my understanding to bear on the threat of 5G. Although energetic medicine is still considered alternative, it has been proven for 100 years that energy is the smallest possible common denominator and so being able to work with and understand energetic frequencies are a must. 5G is considered by some to be a weapons-grade level of disruptor and destroyers/disorientators to wildlife. All wifi signals and EMFs are proven to weaken the human body. Therefore, if the Green Party does intend to get good internet to rural areas, make sure it is wired not wifi. The idea that high speed technology leads to a higher quality of life is actually a myth we need to dispel. Again, it is about education to spread the word that a good remote connection doesn’t replace personal connection. More importantly, it could irreversibly interfere with Nature’s own recovery and make rural places uninhabitable for people or wildlife.
In the counties like Clare and Kerry where they have already put in the 5G, often cutting down trees to do so, there are a lot of questions over ‘who is rolling it out’. No particular company is taking responsibility and it is being agreed even in the face of total opposition from elected councillors and peer reviewed reports. It is the same with chem’ trailing and geo engineering. The three warm days last week, the skies over Kilkenny were streaked with trails. In Donegal, extensive soil testing has been done on the poisons being dropped, on a very regular basis and they have monitored the planes and have those reports that need to be considered.
There is also nano technology being distributed in ordinary agricultural sprays, which I found out from a agri-chemical salesman. This miniscule technology does not just collect data, about the condition of the soil but also is able to transmit data. We must remember that those crops end up in the food chain and therefore consumed by us.
Pharmaceutical companies are considering including micro-chips in pills (coated already in casein, a by-product of the dairy industry) to check compliance. While we have the valid argument of environmental damage for scaling down production, in every industry, we must stop this shift towards a nanny state with pharmaceutical companies sponsoring consultants and hospitals and given State support in making new vaccinations compulsory and spreading ‘health messages’ on national media. It is not obvious to everyone that they have too great a vested interest in our ill health to be allowed to advise on our health.