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  • Writer's picturegfmeade7


I was observing the heat waves over the Med and how it might be devastating crops and livestock production in the hotter regions. In places like Greece and southern Italy olive groves were already being wiped out with disease never mind parched summers. In France and Spain the vineyards depend on a fine balancing act between all the natural order of things working out in favour of a healthy harvest. You would think we could depend on seasonality but after this year all future bets are definitely off. Agriculture is getting it from all sides now with little sympathy from the public or the retail trade.

Nature is really starting to play havoc with farming and food production across the globe and the traditional farming year just cannot be relied upon anymore to do its thing after how we have treated the planet over the last one hundred years. I just had a honey producer say that production was down by three quarters this year with the bees being so put out by the weather. Another pork producer I know well had to close up last year as the price of feed was too costly for him to make any profit at all from rearing pigs. Farmers are up all night these days to beat the rain. Every which way you turn in the food cycle it is a story of woe. Meanwhile most consumers just turn a blind eye.

With such an erratic climate now across the board food producers the world over will just have to figure out how to still work but with seasons being turned on their head. It is hard enough to toil the land as it is with all the other issues around it from future food security and rising costs to animal welfare and world trade and then to have Mother Nature throw her spanner in the works by moving all the goal posts. Then we the public go and throw a third of the food we do purchase away in the waste.

I spent a couple of weeks on a farm in France one time and the all day; all week routine of relentless hard work to get stuff done and keep the business alive is not for the faint hearted. I come from a farming family on both sides so I can relate to the life. The tradition of passing the land down the generations will be coming to a halt for many in the next few years, this is the sad reality. The further exodus to the cities from rural life is only going to leave the countryside a wasteland. Only big conglomerates will be able to afford to work the land.

When speaking to a small Irish beef farmer recently with a herd of only twenty five cattle he told me he was getting a quarter less for his animals at the gate when they were being taken away to the abattoir. There is talk now that farming communities are going to form their own political parties in order to combat the sheer pressure agriculture is coming under by climate saving policies.

Agriculture is not going to be a scapegoat it seems when there is so much damage done from other industries and bigger countries. Holland has already gone down this road. It is not just the farmers though; the fishermen will also be selling off their boats after generations from the same family would have gone to sea. The regulations around that industry are even more punitive with the madness of having to dump tonnes of fish back into the sea if quotas or species are mildly exceeded in a catch. Like the meat trade we import most seafood we eat as we are not prepared to pay higher prices for the proteins Ireland produces hence the retail market has to bring it in from cheaper cost countries, like with say with our chicken or prawns.

So it is all looking quite bleak and searching for solutions is not easy but we need to eat and with no farmers our supply of food will be scarce so I am not surprised that the rural community is fighting back. Governments need to tackle the bigger culprits in the climate debate and not place so much pressure on the small food producer.

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