JANUARY 2020 www.irishfarmersmonthly.com Upfront Bord Bia celebrates 25 years Calf support welcome Last month Bord Bia celebrated its 25th anniversary. The Food Marketing agency was created by the merging of the former CBF (Irish Livestock and Meat Board) and the Food division of Coras Trachtala. The first CEO was Michael Duffy, who joined Bord Bia from the IDA and the first chairman was Philip Lynch. Several names were talked about at the time to fill the Chief Executive role. These included: Aidan Cotter, the then Director of Operations in CBF; John McGrath, who was with the food division of Coras Trachtala, which is now Enterprise Ireland; and BIM Marketing Director at the time, Patricia Slevin; the CEO of Bord Glas, Michael Maloney; and also Pat Brady, the then CEO of the Craft Butchers association. Michael Duffy was considered an outsider, but had a proven track record in the IDA. His appointment was evidence that the newly created food agency would be independent of the meat industry. He was highly successful in the role and Bord Bia became one of the real starts within the State Agencies. Michael Duffy was reappointed for a second term as CEO, and joined the RDS in 2002. Joe Walsh, who was appointed Minister for Agriculture and Food by the late Taoiseach Albert Reynolds, was the driver in creating the organisation. Walsh had been the first Minister for Food and believed the Irish food industry needed one agency to promote the Irish food industry. It’s hard to believe that we had four marketing agencies promoting the Irish food industry in 1984: CBF, BIM, Coras Tracthala and Bord Glas. Michael Duffy’s move to the Royal Dublin Society created the opportunity for Aidan Cotter to take on the mantle. Aidan served with distinction until 2016, when Tara McCarthy took on the role, having previously been CEO of BIM. Tara is leading the agency into this new era where sustainability will play a central role in our marketing at home and abroad. In January, Bord Bia will unveil its new branding, which reflects its current remit. Bord Bia now has offices all over the world and has made a significant contribution to Ireland Inc. over the last quarter of a century. Today, the State Agency has the mandate to promote meat, dairy, consumer foods, drink and seafood. Total export figures for 2018 was over €12 billion. The Financial Support Scheme for Calf Rearing announced by Minister Michael Creed just before Christmas shows the seriousness with which the Department is treating the issue of calf welfare. It is a welcome measure to assist farmers in promoting best practice in the management of newborn calves. The vast majority of farmers treat their calves well. If, as Ned O’Keeffe alluded to in his comments at the ICMSA AGM, there are a few who do not, then it is also the responsibility of the Department to identify those people and take all necessary measures to prevent malpractice. Our animal traceability system allows oversight of instances where there are abnormally high calf mortality levels on individual farms. Farmers cannot afford to be dragged down by the actions of a few. In fairness, the Department has taken action previously where notice was drawn to poor animal husbandry. We all know that things can go wrong through no fault of the farmer and that must be acknowledged. It is where there is deliberate carelessness or misconduct which maligns everyone in the sector, that standards must be enforced. We all have views on what constitutes appropriate calf welfare. Looking after a calf for the first 10 days of its life and then consigning it to a slaughter facility may be perfectly acceptable to some people and be the most economically efficient means of disposing of that calf. Trying to explain that practice to the general public, who may equate newborn calves with kittens and puppies, is a lot more difficult. 7