The patronage of Irish beef farmers by Agriculture House and beyond is deeply offensive.
Reviewing the controversial interim report by the Food Vision 2030 Beef and Sheep Group, one paragraph in the Chairman’s comments really caught my eye.
“The group also stresses the vital importance of securing the livelihoods of current and future generations of Irish cattle breeders,” it says.
“In particular, there is a need to support generational renewal and young farmers and women in agriculture who can positively adapt to the changes and technologies outlined in this report.”
A group of tall babies left alone for half an hour with a report template might do better. The release of such misinformed babble shows how unconnected Ag House is to Irish cattle farming at a time when Irish agriculture has been assigned the role of chief whipping boy in the global warming debate.
For decades, many cattle farmers were forced to work full-time off the farm just to survive, thereby wasting valuable family time on evenings and weekends. Few other sectors of society would tolerate this.
My frustration increased when I heard Damien O’Reilly’s finale nationwide Program.
His guests were a former Deputy Secretary General at the Ministry of Agriculture and our current EU Commissioner. Damien – who will be missed for his ability to ask relevant questions in a simple but direct manner — asked whether it was good that the number of part-time farmers had increased significantly.
The former official thought that was the case, with both panellists citing the increased opportunities in rural Ireland for people living on “non-viable” farms.
But I don’t think part-time farming is a sacrifice-less solution to low farm incomes.
While some people may be fine with it, the continued failure of our farming policies means working a full day off the farm before returning home to work a second day on the farm.
High-profile documents like the Food Vision 2030 report should never contain unsubstantiated and grossly misleading visions for cattle farmers, especially as income research shows the sector has been in decline for decades.
Nor should our Secretary of Agriculture use the creation of the Beef and Sheep Group to make unsubstantiated claims that “our farming families have an exciting future ahead of them”.
Such a distortion is deeply offensive and disrespectful to Irish cattle farmers and seriously damages Agriculture House’s credibility.
Many may see the downgrading of cattle farming to a part-time job as a charitable “mercy killing” solution to the sector’s low incomes.
However, if you continue down this path, it will surely spell the death knell for our unique multi-billion euro natural grass-based export industry, which provides thousands of jobs in rural Ireland.
What we need is real visionary change, and we need it soon.
Hopefully this change will not require such extreme measures as those recently proposed by famous farmer Jeremy Clarkson, who believes the UK Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs should be dissolved entirely.
John Heney farms in Kilfeackle, Co. Tipperary
https://www.independent.ie/business/farming/beef/beef-advice/john-heney-ag-house-platitudes-are-an-insult-to-beef-farmers-42187386.html John Heney: Ag House platitudes are an insult to cattle ranchers