Kilteevan man Michael Spellman signed off as President of ICOS with a call for the agriculture sector not to be scapegoated on the issue of climate change.
Mr. Spellman, completing his term as President of the Irish Co-operative Organisation Society, was addressing the AGM of the organisation in Co. Laois.
The Roscommon man said that climate change is the challenge for this generation and for generations to come. But he appealed to “commentators and campaigners” to avoid the mistake of “making an environmental scapegoat of agriculture when it comes to climate change”.
The annual meeting of Irish dairy, agrifood and mart leaders marked the 125th anniversary of the foundation of the co-operative movement in Ireland in 1894. The event was also addressed by Agriculture Minister Michael Creed. ICOS represents over 130 co-operatives in Ireland.
Mr. Spellman said that ICOS is deeply aware that the environment and climate change is a “lifetime challenge” that affects a global population and which has the potential for “truly catastrophic outcomes for nature and humanity”.
He said that the agriculture sector obviously has much to contribute to sustainability and that it is playing its part in working towards a low carbon future, “relative to the essential and far-reaching benefits which this vital source of food production brings to our society and the economy”.
Mr. Spellman said it is essential that international political, economic and industry leaders act in concert together to address the totality of the environment/climate change challenges.
On Brexit, he said it is a major threat. “Our industry must rise to meet this challenge with new levels of competitiveness and market access”.
Mr. Spellman said that ICOS is strongly representing the interests of its members nationally and internationally, including in respect of CAP developments.