Agriculture

Tipperary's ICMSA president is scathing of Wallace’s farm remarks

Pat McCormack describes comments as 'brass-necked selective memory'

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Tipperary's ICMSA president is scathing of Wallace’s farm remarks

ICMSA president Pat McCormack: condemned Wexford TD Mick Wallace over his remarks on farming

The president of ICMSA has launched a scathing attack on Wexford TD Mick Wallace over comments he made about farmers in the Dail.

Deputy Wallace last week described Irish dairy and beef sectors as a “short-sighted cash generator”.

He likened farming and food industries with coalmining and gas fracking.

“Not alone was Deputy Wallace’s comparison deliberately misleading and completely wrong, it also represented, the single most brass-necked instance of selective memory and hypocrisy that anyone unfortunate enough to have heard it would be able to recall,” said Mr McCormack.

The Tipperary-based farm leader said that Deputy Wallace was one of the most high profile personifications of an industry that just a decade ago had driven Ireland’s economy off a cliff and put €40-odd billion of debt on citizens, broken up thousands of families through emigration, driven people to illness and worse, left hundreds of incomplete and depopulated ghost estates all over state.

The group had, in short, brought the State to the very edge of survival, reducing it to an economic and psychological rubble from which it had only recently emerged.

In 2009 and 2010, after the banks and he and his property developer colleagues had wrecked and bankrupted this country, it was the farm families of Ireland who worked and produced and slowly inched this State back to economic stability, said Mr McCormack

It was strategies like Food Harvest and Food Wise that showed that we could rebuild a real economic sector.

“When our national reputation was destroyed by catastrophic miscalculations and recklessness, it was our food sector and our superb, sustainably produced food that very carefully rehabilitated our reputation in international markets,” he said.

Mr McCormack said it was farmers who were the last man standing after the developers and failing banks had mowed their way across the Irish economy.

“To hear Deputy Wallace thrash the very sectors who had played the biggest part in rescuing our country from the wreckage will strike many of us as the single most brass-necked and hypocritical comments that the Irish public have heard in a very long time,” said Mr McCormack.

He said that farming - certainly family farming on the Irish model that it might be assumed Deputy Wallace might be familiar with from his background - was not destructively extractive like coalmining or fracking, and farmers were, and had been, the most vociferous opponents of environmentally-destructive sectors like mining, fracking and, indeed, unsustainable and badly planned construction projects of the type every single reputable expert identified as one of our greatest environmental problems.

“We all have challenges as we deal with environmental change and Irish farmers will face them and deal with them as we deal with every other problem, he said. “We don’t run away. We don’t change career. We believe that you examine your own record before you begin lecturing anyone else”, he said.