Farmers, Food Purchasers, Policymakers
Ireland is one of the best countries in the world in which to produce grass. However this must be put in the global context of the massive resources (fossil fuel energy, animal feed and water) which goes into meat production. The resource problems are:
• Cattle require 5-20kg of dry matter per kg of food produced. The average gain requirement is about 7kg to produce 1kg gain of live weight. For pigs this is about 4kg/kg and for poultry is lower again (about 2kg/kg).
• Water usage for beef is about 16,700 m3 per tonne of crop which is about 3 times the amount for the next most water intensive sector (pigs).
• As resources (inputs) deplete policymakers’ only option will be to promote a change in agricultural practices. Suggestions include:
– Encourage sustainable farming. Rather than penalise farming meat production which would be unpalatable to the farming community, policy makers should implement policies which promote sustainable food production and encourage farmers into more resource efficient outputs.
– Politicians to put greater pressure at a National and EU level to implement environmentally friendly food growing practices, and to make greater efforts to educate the public.
– Pressurise EU policy makers to reject any attempts towards trade agreements such as TTIP (Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership ) into existence. Such agreements are the corporate driven and do not factor in the environmental and human costs in food costs.
– Resist GM foods which further promote the agenda of a small number of giant agri-business companies in seed ownership and patenting and a consequence of which is the loss of seed diversity. There remains many concerns from the public on the safety of GM foods; a wider debate is needed. Meat consumption if the oublic had greater awareness that many of the animals were fed with GM meal.
– Address lack of public awareness on the inputs to meat production.
– Policy makers can assist by making either GM or non-GM foods visible to meat and poultry farmers at point of purchase, either by labelling or identification on the pallets.
– Promote organic. There is a need for policy makers to promote organic and naturally farmed produce which by its nature does not use GM meal.