Dáil debates

Thursday, 21 May 2020

Outbreaks of Covid-19 in Meat Processing Plants: Statements

 

11:55 pm

Photo of Michael CreedMichael Creed (Cork North West, Fine Gael)

We concluded a public consultation. We have a fixed period within which we transpose the directive into national law. We were doing it as quickly as possible. As the directive was only completed at the end of 2019, we are losing no time on it. The producer organisations are already up and running and I encourage farmers to join one, if they have not already done so.

On the issue of sustainability, that is core to everything the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine is about, notwithstanding some of the commentary that would suggest we are blindly indifferent. As a result of the fact that we are so export oriented, we are acutely conscious of the legal framework within which we operate and the fact that if we do not meet specific targets, there are significant financial penalties.

We are aware of the obligations to hand on the planet to future generations in the most sustainable way possible. We are also acutely conscious that premium prices are available in the marketplace to which we are exporting if we can move further and further up the value chain. This is why we have been working with Bord Bia through Origin Green to ensure the sustainability programme we are pursuing is not just a green sticker on an Irish product but that it is audited and verifiable. It is not often recognised that these Bord Bia programmes are verifiable and audited and that they stand up to scrutiny. This is part of the sustainability. We are global leaders in the sustainability of our dairy industry. Ireland and New Zealand are the most competitive in terms of carbon efficiency for dairy. We are fifth in Europe in terms of beef. We can do an awful lot more in this regard and this is the journey we are on because of the climate action plan the Government has published and the implementation of the targets in the road map.

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