THE “toxicity of relations” between the beef industry and the farming community cannot continue the Minister for Agriculture and Food, Michael Creed declared at the official opening of Tullamore Show and the FBD National Livestock Show on Sunday afternoon last.
Saying that the onus was on the beef industry to enter dialogue with farmers, Minister Creed, in a reference to the Beef Plan protests, acknowledged that it had been a difficult number of weeks for the farming community.
”Good corporate governance, corporate social responsibility, demands that they reach out, demands that they negotiate, demands that they dialogue and converse with what are their critical partners in a very significant industry,” stressed the Minister.
Minister Creed, who performed the official opening of the show, also hit out at commentators in the media who criticise the agricultural sector’s efforts on climate change.
He called on them to acknowledge the strides made so far by the sector to become more sustainable and to avoid generating a reaction from “relentless negative commentary”.
There had been calls from the Beef Plan movement for the Minister’s invite to open the show to be withdrawn and there were fears that demonstrators would picket the official opening.
However, the scheduling of talks between meat processors and farmers earlier this week partially defused the situation.
Officially welcoming the huge crowds to the Butterfield Estate, the Chairperson of Tullamore Show, Brenda Kiernan said people had travelled from all corners of Ireland and from further afield for the event.
”This show is such a vast undertaking,” said Ms Kiernan who outlined that the success of the event was the result of a “collective endeavour”.
Organisers estimate that about 60,000 people attended last Sunday’s event which was blessed with dry weather.
The 250 acre site was in excellent condition and competition was keen in a host of classes in the FBD National Livestock Show.
Overall the show boasted a prize fund of €175,000 and here were over 20,000 free car parking space and the Garda traffic management plan worked a treat on the day with no delays being reported.
In all there were over 1,000 competitions in a host of different fields from cookery to rare breeds, dogs to farm inventions to new attractions such as the pig agility class.
The indoor workshops attracted capacity attendances over the course of the day while glamour in abundance characterised the Fashion and Best Dressed Lady section.
This year the show hosted the Garda Band which led dignitaries in a parade to the reviewing stand before the official opening. Afterwards the band played to capacity crowds in a special open-air concert.
At the official opening the thoughts of many of the speakers were on former Taoiseach Brian Cowen who is seriously ill.
Minister Michael Creed, to loud applause from the large audience, conveyed his best wishes tvia Brian’s brother, Deputy Barry Cowen who was present on the reviewing stand for the official opening.
This year Tullamore played host to the National Hunt Chase which was normally part of the RDS Horse Show programme in previous years.
The issue of safety on the farm was driven home by the Health and Safety authority in association with the Road Safety Authority and the Gardai.
The crème de la crème of livestock from all over the country competed in the FBD National Livestock Show with the Commercial Cattle classes recording a bumper 20 per cent increase in entries.
The Inventions Section also attracted much interest with the top prize going to 88-year-old inventor, Tony Bergin, from Cooleshall, outside Roscrea.
His shoehorn invention, especially geared towards senior citizens, caught the attention of judges.