May 4, 2023
EU Protein Strategy must not undermine the Irish meat and dairy sector

EU Protein Strategy must not undermine the Irish meat and dairy sector
Sinn Féin MEP Chris MacManus in the meeting of the European Parliament’s agriculture and rural development committee has said that any EU protein strategy must not undermine Irish farmers, particularly meat and dairy farmers.
Chris MacManus, said:
“First of all, I warmly welcome great protein self-sufficiency and to reduce dependency on imports outside Europe, particularly in terms of animal feed deriving from unsustainably sourced protein crops such as soya.  
“I believe more support for tillage farmers in Ireland and Europe is needed to encourage domestic production of protein crops.
“However, it is important that the report avoids giving the false impression that animal protein in human diets is bad, whilst all plant-based proteins are good.
“What needs to be noted, and it’s relevantly absent from this report – is references to trade and imports of proteins from third countries. There are concerns around carbon leakage in the context of dependency on imported plant protein products, such as soybean, these often require long-distance transportation, which can contribute to GHG emissions from fossil fuel consumption during transportation. 
“This may result in a higher carbon footprint compared to locally produced protein sources, leading to concerns about the environmental impact of imported protein. An emphasis and a focus on locally sourced protein needs to be a significant part of this strategy.
“The additional dimension of deforestation and land use change is also pertinent to this. Many imported protein sources from outside Europe, whether its beef, soy etc, are associated with deforestation and land use change in producing countries, particularly in regions like South America. Whereas Irish and EU farmers and feed producers generally have to meet higher sustainability and ethical standards.
“It is only fair that others are held to the same standard for a level playing field, particularly as farmers and feed producers within Ireland and the rest of the EU face economic challenges
“It is nonetheless important that a protein strategy should indeed encourage diversity of sustainable protein production, supply and consumption.
“The lack of emphasis in the strategy on the value of local and sustainable animal-based proteins from traditional farming is concerning. Failure to acknowledge this fact, and to remedy it would be completely discriminatory against Irish agriculture and undermine Irish farmers. On this basis I will be tabling amendments to address these issues.” ENDS

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