What a whirlwind 24 hours. On Monday, An Taoiseach Leo Varadkar told a Fine Gael parliamentary party meeting that reducing his meat consumption was his personal contribution to tackling climate change – while acknowledging that this was probably negated by all his air travelling.
The same could be said of most of us: Ireland produces the fifth most carbon-efficient beef in the EU, but we have the fifth most carbon-intensive transport habits.
Less than 24 hours of backlash later, Leo revealed that he had followed his earlier statement with “a very nice Hereford steak”.
“I’m very happy to eat fish landed in Donegal, and poultry, and turkeys, and porkmeat, and all of the wonderful products that Irish farmers of all sorts produce,” he told the Dáil on Tuesday, assuring TDs that he had not turned vegan.
At that point, the Taoiseach’s menu was giving me the meat sweats, but I was relieved for him: as guest of honour at the upcoming IFA AGM, I’m reliably informed he will be served steak again.
“I was trying to eat less red meat for two reasons: one, health; the other, climate change,” he said.
“It’s not flippant. It is a fact that red meat increases instances of cancer and contributes more to climate change.”
So it took our leader just one day to turn his back on the vegan fad beloved of trendy urban voters, and realise that a balanced, locally sourced diet is best for you and the environment.
In Ireland, that’s unlikely to be based on anything to do with avocados.
I wish others could see sense as quickly.
Skin and hair fly as Simmental SGM goes wild
There were wild scenes at Friday’s special general meeting of the Simmental Society in Tullamore.
After a lot of shouting and roaring, the meeting voted by 179 to 26 to disband its entire council, to elect a caretaker council and then a full working council.
The saga was triggered by a letter written by long-time society secretary Peadar Glennon to past executives and members of the then-council, outlining difficulties he faced in helping run society affairs and suggesting mediation or voluntary redundancy.
This triggered an immediate response and – eventually – last week’s special general meeting.
Declan Oates, a member of the now disbanded council, chaired the first part of the SGM and had a hard job of it.
After the vote and election of a caretaker council, Bertie Houston took over as the chair.
The caretaker council is made up of Jennie Aherne, Raymond O’Malley, Paddy Hennelly, Padge Mulhare, John Finnegan, as well as Houston. All are society veterans.
After the voting, Peader Glennon spoke and received a loud round of applause.
Ordinary members who attended the SGM were astonished at the ructions.
“It made anything going on at the Beef Plan meetings look like a teddy bears’ picnic,” one told The Dealer.
ICOS troubleshooter Sean Myers is now likely to be called in to bang heads together and get the society moving forward again.
One-horse race for Macra president
The Macra na Feirme presidential election looks like a one-horse race. Thomas Duffy is the only declared runner so far but Macra-watchers suspect that James Barber from Laois or John Keane from north Tipperary could yet throw their names in the ring.
In Leinster, Veronica Wheatley, Eamon Briscoe, Gerard Mahon and Helen Dempsey are running for vice-president. The Munster VP fight is between Sean Wallace and Trevor Coffey. Shane Quigley is the only northwest candidate ... but we have heard rumblings.
Department going quiet on GLAS
I thought my eyesight was failing me when I checked the Department’s weekly payment update. The number of farmers who received GLAS payments is gone. Instead, very large numbers that would put the EuroMillions to shame are presented. Some €156.7m has been paid out so far for 2018, which is not to be sneezed at and is well up on last year.
But how many farmers were actually paid or are waiting for payment? I have no idea and the Department won’t say.
A cynic would say it only shares information that paints a pretty picture, but I’m not one of those. All I know is the neighbour up the road is owed over €3,000 and needs to pay the meal bill. He is being promised it will be paid “in the next few weeks”, over a month after he was expecting his money.
ICSA’s Kent annoys cattle exporters
It seems there was irritation at the Bord Bia and Department of Agriculture annual briefing for livestock exporters last week. My ears pricked up when I heard reports of ICSA president Paddy Kent making a lengthy speech criticising the organisers for the state of beef farming. Clearly exporters saw this as a hijacking of what is their biggest opportunity of the year to confer with Bord Bia and the Department.
Exporter Kevin Quinn stood up and pointed out that the event was a briefing for exporters and that he wasn’t happy that a farm organisation would use it to make political points.
He thanked Bord Bia, and specifically Joe Burke, for organising the briefing and for its efforts on behalf of exporters.
Irish Cattle and Sheep Farmers Association (ICSA) president Paddy Kent.