RTÉ One, Thursday, 8.30pm
Ear to the Ground

Series 22: Programme 15

Ear to the Ground

America lifts ban on Irish beef imports
For the first time in two decades since the BSE crisis, America has lifted its' ban on imported beef, and Ireland is the first EU member to have gained entry. What does this mean for Irish beef exporters? Darragh McCullough is in New York City to find out.

Beef production in America is big business, produced at industrial scale feedlots, where cattle are pumped with hormones, meaning you can order a huge steak in a restaurant for as little as $20. However recently there is a growing demand for more high end, grass fed, natural beef, which could set you back $100 at a downtown restaurant. With only an estimated 10% of the beef market grassfed, is there an opening for Irish beef?

With the strong dollar, lack of supply, and beef prices 24% higher than at home, this is currently an attractive market for the Irish exporter. But if American cattle farmers cannot make money producing beef, can Irish farmers really compete?

The most northerly tip

Harrys Restaurant in Bridgend, Co. Donegal has become an unlikely destination for foodies all over Britain and Ireland, with its innovative menu of locally sourced food, winning rave reviews and awards.

Working with local farmers and fishermen from the Inishowen peninsula, Donal Doherty has turned a family business into a unique food movement. For local farmer John Hamilton, selling into Harrys Restaurant has given him a chance to produce his own free range pigs and cattle. For the fishermen of Greencastle, the most northerly port in the country, the emphasis on freshly caught gurnard and haddock has created a sustainable local market. For Kemal Scarpello, the restaurant has allowed him to start a craft bakery on a family farm in nearby Newtown Cunningham.

For chef Derek Creagh, who trained with avant garde celebrity chef Heston Blumenthal, Harrys has given him an opportunity to ply his trade in his native county. The restaurant's success has sparked a cluster of food enterprises in the area. Ella McSweeney visits the border county for a taste of success.

Bygone times
At one time in Ireland farm labourers were central to farming life, now they are a thing of the past. We take a nostalgic trip down memory lane to a very different Ireland. Helen meets Sean Carroll who has worked as a farm labourer all of his life, from the age of 16, and we visit the first farm he ever worked on, owned by Jim Finn in Thurles, County Tipperary.

Ear to the Ground is produced by Independent Pictures for RTÉ

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