Macra told laws needed to stop cheap selling of vegetables

Some 80 per cent of Ireland’s fruit and vegetables are imported

When an ash cloud occurred following an eruption of an Icelandic volcano “there was significant pressure on Irish food shelves” because of the lack of fresh fruit and vegetables

When an ash cloud occurred following an eruption of an Icelandic volcano “there was significant pressure on Irish food shelves” because of the lack of fresh fruit and vegetables

 

Ireland should follow the UK’s example and introduce legislation to tackle supermarkets selling vegetables for just a few cent.

Policy director for an Taisce James Nix said last year’s sale of vegetables such as Brussels sprouts at 5 cent a kilogramme was likely to be repeated again this year.

There is huge scope for import substitution and he said 80 per cent of Ireland’s fruit and vegetables are imported.

He told the Macra na Feirme annual conference that the UK had brought forward legislation to tackle the supermarkets’ power and in Ireland four or five supermarkets control 80 per cent of the sector.

An Taisce met Minister for Agriculture Simon Coveney last week and pressed him on the issue, he said.

Mr Nix pointed out that when the ash cloud occurred following the eruption of an Icelandic volcano “there was significant pressure on Irish food shelves” because of the lack of fresh fruit and vegetables. “We need to reduce that 80 per cent dependence on imported fruit and vegetables.”

He said huge dedication was going into reducing carbon emissions in beef production and in some cases the average Irish figure of 19-20kg carbon emission for every 1 kg of beef produced had been cut in half. “Some farmers are down to 10kg” carbon equivalent for each kilo of beef produced.

President of Macra na Feirme Kieran O’Dowd said young farmers “have grown up in an era where re-use, reduce and recycle is the order of the day”.

He also said that while there was a perception cattle contributed to higher carbon emissions, production methods offset greenhouse gas.

Irish cattle are grass fed and “we do not have animals confined in stores and in feed lots like in other parts of Europe”.

Sean Coughlan, chairman of Macra’s agricultural affairs committee, told the conference “the countryside today looks like it does because of farmers. It didn’t happen by accident. It is actively managed.”

Mr Coughlan, a Co Mayo farmer, said “grass is Ireland’s key, key advantage. There are very few places in the world that can grow grass like Ireland. This is what we can do best.”