Saturday, May 16, 2020
Is dying not enough for your precious meat companies, Minister Creed?
Dear Minister Creed,
I wrote to you two months ago to say that Kerry Group sausage factory staff were already infected. Management were providing no opportunity to social distance, no PPE, but instead moving staff around to meet demand.
I asked you to make sure that meat factory staff could self-isolate. I asked that slaughter houses be closed for a month or two, as Department vets would not be overseeing the meat company slaughter lines and exports. There is enough meat in Ireland to keep consumers going. As long as you don't allow imports at the same time as stopping our production, the lockdown could have raised the value of meat, I suggested. But no.
The only response was from a local Green Party spokesman who said unfortunately the meat industry are too dominant.
Are you not even able to protect the workers from mistreatment from our gardai,
let alone request the implementation of HSE guidelines?
Let alone protection from their degenerate management
while the staff are dropping like flies purely for their profit?
This is appalling as it is clearly not workers' fault. It will not be just one of us who is observing this human rights issue. We would like a public response.
Dear Minister Creed, I gather that Spain has called in NATO for humanitarian aid as there are so many people dead in their houses. This is a real crisis that the beloved Agri Sector is not above.
Make sure you don't let imports of things we're no longer exporting, or you'll penalise our farmers when the crisis is over.
As below, I argued for the closing of Irish slaughterhouses as non essential work and the stopping of live export as there are 40km traffic jams at European borders full of animals, impeding medics and supplies getting through.
The one caveat that I hope is obvious is that for every export ceased, equivalent import must be stopped too. I have worked with many farmers who have had to plough their crops back into their land as the supermarkets won't take them. Substances that have been banned here in Ireland mean that their vegetables are not as flawless to look at and the weather changes mean their harvest doesn't happen at a very predictable time. Nonetheless, fruit and vegetables, grown using those banned substances, continue to be imported, unchecked and unhindered and given the supermarket shelf space. We mustn't give warmer countries with the elements of reliable,weather and therefore times of harvest and therefore ability to ensure their produce will be available at a certain time this extra advantage. Multi-national supermarkets must not be allowed to include, in their supply chain to Irish Supermarkets, chemical preservatives, pesticides, insecticides and GMOs banned for use here. It's unfair as well as being against a move to better environmental measures, let alone food safety.
In the same way, supermarkets must not be allowed to import meat from other countries while the lock down ensues on Irish slaughter and export. This period can raise the value of meat in consumers' eyes by being less available. It is crucial not to submerge the market with imported cheap, unethical, unhealthy, imported meat and chicken. Farmers will have to hold on to their animals until the summer and negotiate then on a better footing as the meat industry will be starting up again too and not allowed to go elsewhere to cut corners, costs and even basic welfare standards.
Thanks, Frances Micklem
Previous letter to Lock Down The Meat and Dairy Industry as not above the law:
"Dear Agriculture Department,
I have also sent this to the Green Party, of which I am a member (They explicitly want an end to live export and an end to intensive large farms and a return to small, high welfare operations), the Animal Welfare Desk and the new Animals First political party.
I read about the government's 'Order to close all unnecessary businesses'! Hallelujah. Factories are going to have to close….at last. How many years have I sworn I will live to see the end of the unnecessary killing of animals? Senseless, inexorable murder, short lives of confinement, prodded into trucks, forced to walk in terror to their torture machine, no anaesthetic or sedation first (thanks in part to a shortage of gas for pigs and adhering to horrific Halal for cows), total awareness of what is happening, blood everywhere; living, dead and semi-conscious animals of your own species, even herd, everywhere? Not one Irish man on the line, only Eastern Europeans and others without enough English to get a better job. These guys are already suicidal, their souls gone (Two suicides in QK Meats' Coldstore). Completely past caring. Drenched in violence and entrails. Can we send them home for their self isolation too? Surely they’ve earned it.
So I’ve been begging the powers that be for 24 years. Many have been campaigning since the 60s. There are millions of vegetarians and vegans now, in the last ten years recognizing that we don’t need to kill animals for food, so we shouldn’t. We don’t need to take the milk from cows, so we shouldn’t. This reasoning, which has always been so obvious to some, is now suddenly getting its chance to be legislated for. Today we heard the order to stop all unnecessary business. You’re going to have to CLOSE ALL SLAUGHTER HOUSES AND STOP LIVE EXPORT. It doesn’t matter if it’s for 3 months only. It’s a pause, a hiatus. The DAFM, who texted me today because I'm a farmer, informed me that they’re closed for business for the foreseeable future. You are certainly not sending your vets in to do their usual inspections for food safety or welfare so that means, it should be stopped altogether. Only if you confirm that the full complement of DAFM vets are at sea ports and in factories should they be allowed to stay open. We want proof. But actually, we don't want proof that business as usual is allowed, we want closure.
What will the farmers do? Dry their milking cows off and rough off the animals still in sheds with less and less hard food and more and more turnout. Then let them off in the fields, to sustain themselves, while minding their water, until this crisis is over. Then we can think again.
The government can decide how much support the farmers get. The meat industry does not need handouts. It can rest easy on its profits and your department can insist they continue to pay their staff while they’re not working. (I refer to when Dawn Fresh (part of the Queally Group) was closed due to food safety non compliance and they laid off all their staff with immediate effect, with no pay or notice. It is not the government who should pay for everything with tax payer’s money. They can push for insurance companies as well to honour a ‘loss of business’ or an ‘acts of God’ phrase or whatever they need.
Please don't give us some old chat about slaughter being necessary for food. You know that farms, factories and trucks should be grounded like everyone else to flatten the curve of the virus spread. Like everything else, meat and dairy products can be rationed. Do not play into the hands of the already unscrupulous meat industry who are only too delighted to knock out lower and lower standard sausages (for example), as there is such a rush on. The Kerry Group in Shillelagh, Carlow have already had cases of Covid 19 but haven't closed, just moved staff around. Perhaps your rule of thumb should be, if they reported that case then they are attempting to be responsible about not spreading the virus and if they didn't they are definitely trying to cover it up and stay open and profiting, regardless of risk to staff and customers?
We have to slow down how much meat we eat anyway for the environment. We have to stop the import of cheap meat, in order to make sure Irish farmers' products are the only ones on our market. You have to bring the meat industry to task. This is our chance.
I am so grateful for this chance to stop the killing of animals and birds, for the first time in living memory. Even if it's just for a time. People might start to see sense and see the reality of this barbaric modern day industry, so far removed from it's small-holding, non-gmo-fed, free range, pasture fed, past.
If you want to hear how a few Irish farmers are doing it, here is a Limerick farmer on how he helped his land recover, stopped feeding grain and dried off his cows for under a fiver.
Please don't miss the opportunity Close all slaughterhouses and stop live export