Asda’s commitment to source 100% British beef has been described as “alarming” by one Independent TD.
Roscommon-Galway Independent TD, Michael Fitzmaurice, made the statement as he labelled the uncertainty surrounding Brexit as “ferocious”. “Whether people like it or not and whether they live in a city or a rural area, we must realise that food is transported between Ireland and England by lorry and by ships going back and forth.”
“We need to make sure that we understand that 60% to 70% of our beef goes to the UK. It was alarming to see Asda’s statement that it will buy only British beef, which would not be a good thing for Irish farmers.”
“I think minister we have to make sure that we put the funds in place, whether it is state aid or not or where the EU goes blocking us, we have to support the agricultural sector right through, be it the beef, dairy or the sheep sector.”
“While we have something like 300,000 to 400,000 lambs coming down across the border, some of them come from the UK, with the agreement that are in place, that appears to be going to continue.”
“But for our beef to go across to the UK, if there is not a deal done, there will be tariffs imposed. With the price of beef at the moment, the farming sector cannot withstand the likes of that.”
“I think Government intervention has to take place to make sure we make the farmers in this country viable,” he added.
During his speech, Fitzmaurice also called on the government to “put a foot” under the timber industry, which employs some 12,000 people.
“In terms of the timber industry, last Friday, for the first time in 30 years, there was a mill in this country that did not have any timber.”
“We must realise that much of our timber goes to the building industry in the UK, and for pallets.”
‘Screw people more in rural areas’
He also shed light on the introduction of climate action legislation that he believes “will basically screw people more in the rural areas if there is to be a carbon tax increase of €6 or €7 per tonne this year and next year.”
“When under pressure, it is necessary to pull back on certain things. The health and wealth of the people are more important than deciding that we, as a nation, are going to save the world when others are giving the whole lot the two fingers.”
“I am not saying we are ignoring the issue but people cannot be left as I describe. Do we want an Ireland in which we are looking out a half door and drawing the dole while saying we are a great country and that our emissions levels have come down?”
“Alternatively, do we want to keep creating work? We are emerging from a tough time that began in 2010. We are now in the middle of a very tough time and we must ensure we put incentives in place so businesses can continue right around the country, but we must also ensure there are links between all the relevant Departments, including those responsible for agriculture and transport, to be sure we are as Brexit ready as possible.”
“People talk about being Brexit ready but how do we solve the problem if a heap of lorries are banged up together with food in them, resulting in shortages here and there?” Fitzmaurice added.