Wednesday, May 13, 2020

Animal Agriculture in a Just Transition

Good response from Green Party Spokesman on Agriculture: Pippa Hackett

Dear Frances,

Thank you for your email.

The live export to non EU countries, although somewhat sporadic at this time, is sadly continuing, and it is our continued policy and desire to see this particular trade banned. Needless to say, it will be met by much resistance unfortunately. 

I wouldn’t call it backtracking in relation to the export of unweaned calves. Our policy is aiming to phase out this particular form of export, be that through reducing numbers of calves or opening up other markets for them. An outright ban may well cause greater welfare issues here. But yes, although not ideal, the fact that they are travelling within the EU does offer them some protection in terms of welfare legislation, something which is absent from those animals exported outside of the EU.

I take your suggested points on board, and some would certainly overlap with our policies. Others, it seems, are not quite so simple to implement. But that should not stop us exploring them.

Thanks again for getting in touch.

Kind regards,


Just a letter I wrote to some of our public representatives today to keep them on the Animal Welfare case!!

Dear Pippa, 
Cows - The Ghosts In The Machine

I was relieved and grateful to hear that the Sarah M live export ship of bulls to Algeria this Friday has been cancelled.
I was sad to hear that the Atlantic M live export ship of 2000 bulls to Libya arrived there on the 11thMay after 10 days at sea.
I was sorry to hear a slight back-tracking on the Green live export stand that consisted of a reply to a question on live export: ‘European destinations might have good enough regulations in place’.

The policy for an end to live export is being thwarted by there being 1) 500,000 unwanted dairy calves and 2) price- and weight-fixing by the Irish meat industry at Irish factories. 
This reminded me to write and remind you what we must negotiate for, in government. 
1)   Stop breeding, it is the only way to there being less animals.
2)   Stop Halal Slaughter. It is against our welfare standards and unjustified for overseas deals.
3)   Stop the import of animal or plant produce/ingredients that are being produced in Ireland.
4)   Immediately ban the sale of animal or plant foods/ingredients produced using chemical feeds, fungicides or other treatments that are banned for Irish farmers to use. 
5)   Guarantee the sale of Irish farmers produce and that means supermarkets must not be allowed to buy in earlier, more guaranteed harvests from warmer countries with more reliable climates. 
6)   Existing numbers of farm animals and birds can be gradually reduced, with the State fixing a strong price for farmers.  Animals do not have to be killed at two years, or 14 months. As we wind down the industries, some animals might live until eight or nine years. The meat can be stored in the industry’s Cold Stores and rationed, as other things were, in the lockdown. This will allow a gradual but guaranteed transition for consumers, to a more plant-based diet. 
7)   Farmers need the government to enforce a ban on the import of meat and dairy, as strongly as the Green Party stand for no live export and for the end of intensive farming.
8)   Green agriculture can only be achieved if subsidies are redirected to the production of only clean food: No agri-chemicals; a major increase in orchards as an alternative to small beef farms; organic mills to be funded and other services; a resuming of organic crops like beetpulp, oats, ecological fuel, ethnol as well as vegetables and fruit. 
9)   As well as Coilte shifting to native forests and community orchards, they must be banned from spraying their forestry.    
10)Avoiding labour displacement, we must create farms that we can manage – I refer to Guinness refusing Irish hops this year (a week or more after the farmers had planted their crops) and the fruit farms who were importing Eastern European pickers, rather than using Irish workers.
11)Animals can be crucial in a transition from animal agriculture to crop production, by harvesting their manure to enrich the soil, currently stripped by chemical fertilizers. We will need to grow oats and peas and hazelnuts; crops that can be used for alternative milks, without merely displacing emissions by buying in almond and coconut milk for example.  
12)Both cows and pigs waste could fuel biodigester community energy systems. 
13)Promote and share environmental information. If for example, the inherent cruelty of Ireland keeping 99% of its pigs in intensive conditions without some of their five freedoms and 2) the inherent environmentally-destructive and health- destroying effects of agri-chemicals and GMOs were promoted, alongside 3) the targets we agreed at the climate summit, people would be more motivated to move away from the supermarket food they have become dependent on and source a local CSA and local organic produce.  
14)Calf at foot dairy. Furthermore, as we ban intensive farming and phase out breeding animals and poultry at all, there can be a requirement for calf at foot dairy. It has been shown to work even in automatic systems across Europe and mainly in Sweden. 
15)Animal Welfare and Animal Control must both be managed by the Agriculture Department.  Currently they are separate and it is not working for animal charities and is not promoting responsible pet ownership or welfare. I bring your attention to the culling of deer, seals, badgers, horses and dogs in pounds and the other contradictions in preserving wildlife, managing cruelty and neglect and rearing animals for food.

You know all these things but please negotiate now, looking to the future, rather than just addressing what will we do with this year’s calves and just leaving the meat and dairy operations as they are, to find ourselves in the same situation next year. 
I am a Green Party member and a small pig farmer in Kilkenny. I also run Harmony Hall Vegan Think Tank. I have practiced and taught plant-based organic health for twenty years.

Best regards, Frances Micklem



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