The end of the Irish Beef Industry?


#42

I think it could still go ahead, after all this was all known prior to and during negotiations.

Only a huge outcry will prevent it, otherwise there will be lip service followed by amnesia and little coverage


#43

Exactly.

But according to some of the ideologues here and elsewhere, the destruction of the Irish Beef Industry is a price worth paying in order to be seen to bend the knee to neo-liberal fashion…on the pretence of it being somehow ‘green’ (despite it being nothing of the sort now or before these fires were started ie nothing has actually changed beyond a heightened degree of media focus).

Globalist nonsense/spin at its worst


#44

Leo threatens to not sign the Mercosur deal unless Brazil stops the burning.

I hope Irish farmers, big and small, have noted he didn’t make that same threat when this deal first came out a few weeks back and all the implications it has for them


#45

Great news for the consumer, we were being sold meat from Europe that wasn’t the right animal…who knows what we’ll get here


#46

If you are going to make up some strawman argument, can you please attempt to identify said neoliberalism etc


#47

Leo wants to be more green that the GREENS it seems (maybe we should egg him on to out vegan the vegans too), mores the pity he didn’t apply the same brinksmanship in relation to Ireland interests when it came to the signing the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration in Marrakech, Morocco December last year as a continuation and ramping up of the UN global replacement migration policies in play.

Perhaps we should have burned something?

Meanwhile…

Did someone say G7?

Quick burn some trees, plaster it across the global news media stat!

By some accounts there is not much exceptional about these fires, the Forbes article below has some more nuanced and perhaps more valuable insights, it continues to subtly frame the reporting within the approved Climate Change reality matrix, subtle as that is or is not (depending on your point of view), there is a rather humours ending message for those with eyes in industry to see.

The article also grapples with the local farming angle within the context of Mercosur Deal and economic pressures.

Why Everything They Say About The Amazon, Including That It’s The ‘Lungs Of The World,’ Is Wrong

The dramatic photos shared by celebrities of the fires in Brazil weren’t what they appeared to be

The increase in fires burning in Brazil set off a storm of international outrage last week. Celebrities, environmentalists, and political leaders blame Brazilian president, Jair Bolsonaro, for destroying the world’s largest rainforest, the Amazon, which they say is the “lungs of the world.”

Singers and actors including Madonna and Jaden Smith shared photos on social media that were seen by tens of millions of people. “The lungs of the Earth are in flames,” said actor Leonardo DiCaprio. “The Amazon Rainforest produces more than 20% of the world’s oxygen,” tweetedsoccer star Cristiano Ronaldo. “The Amazon rain forest — the lungs which produce 20% of our planet’s oxygen — is on fire,” tweeted French President Emanuel Macron.

And yet the photos weren’t actually of the fires and many weren’t even of the Amazon. The photo Ronaldo shared was taken in southern Brazil, far from the Amazon, in 2013. The photo that DiCaprio and Macron shared is over 20 years old. The photo Madonna and Smith shared is over 30. Some celebrities shared photos from Montana, India, and Sweden.

To their credit, CNN and New York Times debunked the photos and other misinformation about the fires. “Deforestation is neither new nor limited to one nation,” explained CNN . “These fires were not caused by climate change,” noted The Times .

But both publications repeated the claim that the Amazon is the “lungs” of the world. “The Amazon remains a net source of oxygen today,” said CNN . “The Amazon is often referred to as Earth’s ‘lungs,’ because its vast forests release oxygen and store carbon dioxide, a heat-trapping gas that is a major cause of global warming,” claimed The New York Times.

I was curious to hear what one of the world’s leading Amazon forest experts, Dan Nepstad, had to say about the “lungs” claim.

“It’s bullshit,” he said. “There’s no science behind that. The Amazon produces a lot of oxygen but it uses the same amount of oxygen through respiration so it’s a wash.”

Plants use respiration to convert nutrients from the soil into energy. They use photosynthesis to convert light into chemical energy, which can later be used in respiration.

What about The New York Times claim that “If enough rain forest is lost and can’t be restored, the area will become savanna, which doesn’t store as much carbon, meaning a reduction in the planet’s ‘lung capacity’”?

Also not true, said Nepstad, who was a lead author of the most recent Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report. “The Amazon produces a lot of oxygen, but so do soy farms and [cattle] pastures.”

Some people will no doubt wave away the “lungs” myth as nit-picking. The broader point is that there is an increase in fires in Brazil and something should be done about it.

But the “lungs” myth is just the tip of the iceberg. Consider that CNN ran a long segment with the banner, “Fires Burning at Record Rate in Amazon Forest” while a leading climate reporter claimed, “The current fires are without precedent in the past 20,000 years.”

While the number of fires in 2019 is indeed 80% higher than in 2018, it’s just 7% higher than the average over the last 10 years ago, Nepstad said.

While the number of fires in 2019 is indeed 80% higher than in 2018, it’s just 7% higher than the average over the last 10 years ago.

One of Brazil’s leading environmental journalists agrees that media coverage of the fires has been misleading. “It was under [Workers Party President] Lula and [Environment Secretary] Marina Silva (2003-2008) that Brazil had the highest incidence of burning,” Leonardo Coutinho told me over email. “But neither Lula nor Marina was accused of putting the Amazon at risk.”

… “What is happening in the Amazon is not exceptional,” said Coutinho. “Take a look at Google web searches search for ‘Amazon’ and ‘Amazon Forest’ over time. Global public opinion was not as interested in the ‘Amazon tragedy’ when the situation was undeniably worse. The present moment does not justify global hysteria.”

And while fires in Brazil have increased, there is no evidence that Amazon forest fires have.

“What hurts me most is the bare idea of the millions of Notre-Dames, high cathedrals of terrestrial biodiversity, burning to the ground , ” a Brazilian journalist wrote in the New York Times .

But the Amazon forest’s high cathedrals aren’t doing that. “I saw the photo Macron and Di Caprio tweeted,” said Nepstad, “but you don’t see forests burning like that in the Amazon.”

Amazon forest fires are hidden by the tree canopy and only increase during drought years. “We don’t know if there are any more forest fires this year than in past years, which tells me there probably isn’t,” Nepstad said. “I’ve been working on studying those fires for 25 years and our [on-the-ground] networks are tracking this.”

What increased by 7% in 2019 are the fires of dry scrub and trees cut down for cattle ranching as a strategy to gain ownership of land.

Against the picture painted of an Amazon forest on the verge of disappearing, a full 80% remains standing. Half of the Amazon is protected against deforestation under federal law.

“Few stories in the first wave of media coverage mentioned the dramatic drop in deforestation in Brazil in the 2000s,” noted former New York Times reporter Andrew Revkin, who wrote a 1990 book, The Burning Season , about the Amazon, and is now Founding Director, Initiative on Communication & Sustainability at The Earth Institute at Columbia University.

Deforestation declined a whopping 70% from 2004 to 2012. It has risen modestly since then but remains at one-quarter its 2004 peak. And just 3% of the Amazon is suitable for soy farming.

Both Nepstad and Coutinho say the real threat is from accidental forest fires in drought years, which climate change could worsen. “The most serious threat to the Amazon forest is the severe events that make the forests vulnerable to fire. That’s where we can get a downward spiral between fire and drought and more fire.”

Today, 18 - 20% of the Amazon forest remains at risk of being deforested.

“I don’t like the international narrative right now because it’s polarizing and divisive,” said Nepstad. “Bolsonaro has said some ridiculous things and none of them are excusable but there’s also a big consensus against accidental fire and we have to tap into that.”

“Imagine you are told [under the federal Forest Code] that you can only use half of your land and then being told you can only use 20%,” Nepstad said. “There was a bait and switch and the farmers are really frustrated. These are people who love to hunt and fish and be on land and should be allies but we lost them.”

Nepstad said that the restrictions cost farmers $10 billion in foregone profits and forest restoration. “There was an Amazon Fund set up in 2010 with $1 billion from Norwegian and German governments but none of it ever made its way to the large and medium-sized farmers,” says Nepstad.

Both the international pressure and the government’s over-reaction is increasing resentment among the very people in Brazil environmentalists need to win over in order to save the Amazon: forests and ranchers.

“Macron’s tweet had the same impact on Bolsonaro’s base as Hillary calling Trump’s base deplorable,” said Nepstad. “There’s outrage at Macron in Brazil. The Brazilians want to know why California gets all this sympathy for its forest fires and while Brazil gets all this finger-pointing.”

“I don’t mind the media frenzy as long as it leaves something positive,” said Nepstad, but it has instead forced the Brazilian government to over-react. “Sending in the army is not the way to go because it’s not all illegal actors. People forget that there are legitimate reasons for small farmers to use controlled burns to knock back insects and pests.”

The reaction from foreign media, global celebrities, and NGOs in Brazil stems from a romantic anti-capitalism common among urban elites, say Nepstad and Coutinho. “There’s a lot of hatred of agribusiness,” said Nepstad. “I’ve had colleagues say, ‘Soy beans aren’t food.’ I said, ‘What does your kid eat? Milk, chicken, eggs? That’s all soy protein fed to poultry.’”

Others may have political motives. “Brazilian farmers want to extend [the free trade agreement] EU-Mercosur but Macron is inclined to shut it down because the French farm sector doesn’t want more Brazilian food products coming into the country,” Nepstad explained.

Despite climate change, deforestation, and widespread and misleading coverage of the situation, Nepstad hasn’t given up hope. The Amazon emergency should lead the conservation community to repair its relationship with farmers and seek more pragmatic solutions, he said.

“Agribusiness is 25% of Brazil’s GDP and it’s what got the country through the recession,” said Nepstad. “When soy farming comes into a landscape, the number of fires goes down. Little towns get money for schools, GDP rises, and inequality declines. This is not a sector to beat up on, it’s one to find common ground with.”

Nepstad argued that it would be a no-brainer for governments around the world to support…“For $2 million a year we could control the fires and stop the Amazon die-back,” said Nepstad. “We have 600 people who have received top-notch training by US fire jumpers but now need trucks with the right gear so they can clear fire breaks through the forest and start a backfire to burn up the fuel in the pathway of the fire.”

For such pragmatism to take hold among divergent interests, the news media will need to improve its future coverage of the issue.

“One of the grand challenges facing newsrooms covering complicated emergent, enduring issues like tropical deforestation,” said journalist Revkin, “is finding ways to engage readers without histrionics. The alternative is ever more whiplash journalism — which is the recipe for reader dis engagement.”

Read more here: https://www.forbes.com/sites/michaelshellenberger/2019/08/26/why-everything-they-say-about-the-amazon-including-that-its-the-lungs-of-the-world-is-wrong/#2067b445bde0

Now we have the-guardian running a “chump change” piece, $20 million not enough, critics want more… while the Forbes article indicates $2 million would go a long way i.e. it could be solved for “chump change”

Which is it? :thinking:


#48

BBC News - Amazon fires: Brazil to reject G7 offer of $22m aid

President Jair Bolsonaro’s chief of staff, Onyx Lorenzoni, told the Globo news website: "Thanks, but maybe those resources are more relevant to reforest Europe


#49

@Blindjustice I didn’t expect my question to be answered so quickly! :grinning:


#50

Lots of good environmental stuff in this interview on Newstalk on the Brazilian forest fires and importing beef with Dr Cara Augustenburg, former Chairperson of Friends of the Earth Ireland, and Europe.

But the economic analysis is worrying if you are a consumer (oh yeah, that’s all of us). The implications of a belief that all global trade hurts individuals, only benefits corporations and we should stop it all, would have us back in the protectionist 1950s and sure, weren’t we all happy back then dancing at the crossroads.

https://www.newstalk.com/shows/the-hard-shoulder-234864
At 09:44 into the interview -

…All of these global trade agreements are bad for individuals, they support corporations in making further profits…

I wonder if she considers membership of the EU as being bad for individuals from an economic and environmental viewpoint.


#51

It went too far. We could well end up as poor as the 1959s dancing at the Cross roads again In time


#52

#53

OK what are the basic facts here? Is it that they are cutting each others throats by producing without responding to market signals? Is it that these guys all have other jobs more or less? Is it that their land is fit fit for feck all else except trees and the odd site? Are they ultimately looking for a “retirement scheme” to get them to leave the stage?


#54

There are several different strands of farming and farmers. Ignoring the tillage and vegetable side of it, and intensive pig and poultry businesses, dairy farmers are doing reasonably well. Then there are a good many “hobby” beef or sheep farmers who have another job on the side or whose partner has a steady income so are not dependent on making any money from farming.

This leaves the full-time beef farmers who cannot provide an income for themselves or their family at present due to the price they receive for their cattle at the large meat processors. Processors blame a world over supply. These farmers are getting desperate and are beginning to take radical measures to draw attention to their plight. This is not just an Irish phenomenon as there have been large scale farmer protests recently in other locations such as Berlin.

There are no easy solutions:

Beef farmers have invested a great deal into facilities over the years for their beef systems and they would not have the cash to transfer easily to another production system such as dairying or tillage which require large capital investments these days to do properly. Also much of the land farmed by beef farmers is not suitable for large scale tillage (hilly or wet land).

It is not really feasible for farmers to set up a beef processing plant themselves to cut out one of the middlemen as you need huge capital plus rendering plants, export structures etc which are tied up in the current beef processor monopoly. They have found it impossible to blockade the beef plants as injunctions have been used against them if they organise. Also large scale processors such as Larry Goodman have their own large farms to provide supplies during any blockade.

Because the protesting farmers are injuncted as soon as they organise they are very splintered. The main farming organisations are against these protests and see them as counter productive but are accused of complacency by the protesting farmers who are a minority at present.

It is difficult to see any solution to the problems in the beef sector apart from massive intervention into the market by the EU and governments to either put a floor price in the market or to legislate in some way that farmers get a fair percentage of the final price paid in the retail outlets. (It is curious why farmers have not really tried to blockade retail outlets or the warehouses of the supermarket chains). I doubt that there will be the political will to do this as the majority of EU consumers are ultimately more interested in cheap food over and above any other concerns at present.

Without some sort of intervention beef farmers in Europe will increasingly leave the land, or look for off farm incomes elsewhere, and the race to the bottom in term of production costs in this era of globalisation will mean that a lot of the beef in our supermarkets will eventually come from the Amazon basin or large ranching operations in the US or Australia with dubious veterinary practices. Plus you have the carbon footprint of transporting this beef to Europe.


#55

Very well said onioneater.

One other point to note is the single farm payment.
If you don’t keep farming you lose the single farm payment.
A lot of farmers continue with the beef even at break-even or a small loss, just to keep this payment.
For many it amounts to working for dole level money.


#56

Thanks for the answers guys very helpful.


#57

#58

The irony of that report in The Express is that farmers want the EU to meddle more in the market in order to ultimately prop up prices, rather then meddle less in the neo-liberal way promoted by The Express’s political sponsors. But obviously The Express has a different agenda, its bash the EU time on there every day and twice on Sunday.


#59

The Express view all protests etc through their Overton window of EUcrats. French farmers are largely reliant on subsides through via the generouity of the French government and CAP. Wait until they realise that CAP will be cut significantly following the exit of the UK from the EU.

Like here they are protesting in part in the poor price for produce which is largely governed by international prices and the various cartels and supermarkets. Farmers also feel targeted and under pressure by various climate activists, cheap imports, falling prices due to russian sanctions and from Peta types.


#60

I presume we’ll still have country of origin labeling? I, for one, would prefer to pay a premium for Irish beef over stuff from Mercosur. The very name sounds like a dodgy Jurassic Park for cows. I’m no tree hugger, but the idea of chopping down rainforests, displacing their inhabitants, and shipping beef carcasses around the planet just so I can have a lesser product cheaper, sounds wrong.