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Farmers Fight Ministry Decision to Source Chicken from UK

by 5m Editor
18 June 2009, at 9:08am

IRELAND - The Minister of Defence has agreed to meet members of the Irish Farmers Association (IFA) following the revelation earler this week that his department is to source its chicken supplies from Northern Ireland.

Following an IFA poultry growers protest outside the office of the Minister for Defence, Willie O'Dea and his Department, in Dublin, the Minister has agreed to meet with representatives from the group to address the Government's policy of sourcing chicken for the Defence Forces from a non Bord Bia Assured processor outside the Republic.

Deputy IFA president, Derek Deane, said, "Although we appreciate the Minister meeting us on this matter, he and the other Government ministers must take immediate action to redress this situation and defend Irish jobs.

"The supplier for the €350,000 contract apparently does not contribute anything to the Irish economy. What is even more concerning is the business is not accredited under the Government's own Bord Bia Quality Assurance Scheme and, as it is involved in secondary processing only, the company could be sourcing chickens from anywhere."

He added, "it is a major body blow to all farmers that Government departments are not supporting the Irish economy by purchasing foreign products. Minister O'Dea should be acutely aware of the impact on poultry farmers in his own county of Limerick who have lost their livelihoods with the closure of Kantoher and Castlemahon Poultry Products in the last number of years. These factories closed down because of the devastating effects that imported chicken meat has had on the whole Irish poultry sector over the last five years. I am aghast that he has learned nothing from this experience. Is he waiting for the whole Irish industry to close down?"

IFA poultry chairman, Ned Morrissey, said, "This recent decision not to support indigenous Irish business shows that the Irish Government and their officials are out of touch with the difficulties of the poultry sector at this time. Surely when jobs are being lost all over the country, it is more important than ever that those in power lead by example and support indigenous production. Poultry meat in this country is produced to the highest standards and is responsible for over 2,500 jobs between production, processing and subsidiary industries. How can we expect retailers and food companies to give shelf space to Irish produce if our own Government does not lead by example and support Quality Assured Irish product? This simply would not happen in other EU countries."

Mr Morrissey said, "There should be an instruction to all Government agencies to ensure that food procurement specifies Bord Bia Quality Assured product when it is available. We also need to see the implementation of a range of measures by the Government to improve competitiveness and help Irish industry compete fairly. As things stand we are expected to produce to first world standards and survive on third world prices."