Bord Bia reject MEP's claims on Origin Green marketing campaign

Luke 'Ming' Flanagan
Luke 'Ming' Flanagan
Declan O'Brien

Declan O'Brien

Bord Bia has strongly rejected criticism of its Origin Green marketing campaign by Irish MEP, Luke 'Ming' Flanagan.

At a recent farmer meeting in Carrick-on-Shannon, Mr Flanagan said the importation of massive quantities of feed, much of it GM feed, for the dairy and beef sectors, represented a major weakness in Bord Bia's marketing strategy.

Mr Flanagan also claimed that the Origin Green campaign enabled intensive farming interests to trade on the "green image" of Irish agriculture even though these landscapes were invariably created and maintained by the efforts of extensive farmers and those working marginal lands.

However, Bord Bia insisted that its Origin Green programme was established to provide proof that Irish food and drink was produced in a sustainable manner. "The programme has over 50,000 farmer members and 339 food manufacturers and retail members. The largest farmer membership is from the beef, dairy and lamb sectors. The main feed used in these enterprises is grass and grass-based products such as silage and hay," Bord Bia said.

"At certain times of the year some concentrates are used to supplement the grass feed. While the percentage of concentrates used is a very small part of the overall diet, it is nonetheless important for both production and animal welfare," the Bord added.

"The requirements in sourcing feed are clearly set out both in the Sustainable Beef and Lamb Assurance Scheme and the Sustainable Dairy Assurance Scheme.

"It is necessary for farmers to meet these requirements to be a member of these schemes and Origin Green," Bord Bia insisted.

"The promotion of Bord Bia's Origin Green Programme reflects the fact that our main enterprises, dairy and beef, are predominately grass based and that farmers take pride in their work and the welfare of their animals. In addition, Ireland is very efficient in producing beef and dairy, the fifth lowest carbon footprint for beef production and the lowest for dairy in Europe."

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Industry figures put the total level of feed imports for the Irish livestock sector at around 1.7m tonnes for 2016. However, this figure is likely to have increased substantially in 2017 because of increased cow numbers and the poor weather during autumn and winter.

Some concerns have been raised in export markets, particularly Germany, regarding the use of GM feed in the Irish livestock sector.

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