Patrick Kent has stepped down from his role as ICSA president, having been named by Independents 4 Change South of Ireland MEP candidate Mick Wallace on his replacement list.
Mr Kent’s decision to step down from Ireland’s third largest farmer organisation has surprised farming circles as Mr Wallace, in Dáil debates, has called for the scaling back of the beef and dairy sectors to reduce Ireland’s carbon emissions.
He cited of beef and dairy alongside the climate impacts of gas fracking.
In February, in a Dáil question to Agriculture Minister Michael Creed, Mick Wallace stated: “The meat and dairy herds are to Ireland what the coal industry is to Poland and the fracking gas industry is to the United States, namely, a short-sighted cash generator, the expansion of which is undermining the chances of survival of the planet and the people of the global south and in less than a generation the people of the global north.”
Minister Creed said the analogy was “rather unfortunate” while citing a 2010 report by the European Commission which found Ireland was the most carbon-efficient producer in the European Union per unit of dairy production and the fifth most carbon-efficient producer of beef per kilogram.
While Mr Kent has stated that he remains politically neutral, his move could potentially see him become an MEP in a scenario wherein Mick Wallace, if elected as an MEP, should later decide to step down in order to contest an Irish general election.
Mr Kent has been ICSA’s president since 2014, having been re-elected twice during that time.
A suckler and sheep farmer in New Ross, Co Wexford, Mr Kent has been a critic of “militant vegan ideology” which he said was a big threat to the future of the livestock sector.
Mr Kent’s highlights as ICSA president included pushing for an EU level auditor to analyse and publicise the division of profits in the beef food chain to expose the high margins enjoyed by retailers and processors.
He also led studies of the Quality Assurance Scheme (QAS), with the ICSA’s analysis suggesting that farmers were losing on average €150 per head of cattle by virtue of receiving zero payment for the fifth quarter.
ICSA thanked Mr Kent for his visionary approach he brought to many of the most challenging issues facing the farming sector during his time as president.