Readers like you keep news free for everyone.

More than 5,000 readers have already pitched in to keep free access to The Journal.

For the price of one cup of coffee each week you can help keep paywalls away.

Support us today
Not now
Tuesday 7 February 2023 Dublin: 7°C
Column 'Farmers are asking 'where’s my share of this economic boom?''
There is a physical and mental strain on the family farm that can be compounded by financial pressures, writes Richard Moeran.

FARMERS ACROSS IRELAND and Europe have been tested over the last 10 months by our unpredictable weather which has thrown many events our way. This “winter of our discontent” has caused some serious problems and has highlighted how frail our low profit system of production is when challenged by adverse conditions.

As a farmer in Cavan I have seen and heard some of the shocking consequences coming in from around the country related to the hard winter and resulting fodder crisis.

A vital role

Currently Irish food and agri-business contributes annually €24 billion to the Irish economy, €13 billion in exports and an estimated 250,000 jobs in services and industry. Agriculture now plays a vital role and will continue to be a significant contributor to our future economic development.

However, these statistics mean nothing to a farmer who is living in rural isolation on a farm that is at best breaking even, struggling to feed cattle after one of the worst fodder crises in many years.

The weather is not the only unpredictable factor for the industry at present however. We are collectively asking, what is the future for farming? Is it possible that food is simply too cheap, or not affordable enough? Will stem cell research allow companies like Memphis meats in California to produce meat industrially without an animal? What will Brexit mean?

Is it possible that the vegan movement may influence future policy on agriculture? This week we also heard the news of the ASDA and Sainsbury merger giving yet more power to a new breed of retail dominator aiming to claim over 30% of the UK market.

Physical and mental strain

There is a physical and mental strain on the family farm that can be compounded by financial pressures. Farmers are asking the question “where’s my share of this economic boom?” and we need to be fit as a society to answer by ensuring a fair return to the primary producer along with legislative protection from predatory pricing.

It would seem that farming is facing some insurmountable challenges, but rest assured farmers are incredibly adept at change and survival. It is critical however that our consumers understand all of this.

One underlying fact must be remembered and acknowledged – every day farmers are the main contributors in feeding over 7 billion people on our planet and the family farm is integral as a system of production. Bottom line, we need our farmers like we need our next breath of air.

Our survival

It is hard to believe that Europe has only one independent organisation I’m aware of dedicated to communicating the reasons why farming, agri business and the common agricultural policy which benefits 500 million consumers across Europe, is critical to our survival. That organisation exists here in Ireland and is called Agri Aware.

Recently, Agri Aware organised a ‘National Open Farm Day’ to help educate consumers about what happens on a working farm and to encourage families to learn more about where our food comes from. It was the first time in Ireland that farms from across the country simultaneously opened their gates to the public on one day.

The national event connected consumers directly with the primary producers of our food in a transparent and highly engaging way. We hope to continue to open the lines of communication between farmers and the consumers of their products and begin to bridge the urban-rural divide and develop a greater understanding about how the food we eat everyday gets to our tables.

Richard Moeran is a tillage and beef farmer in Mountnugent Co Cavan. He’s also the Chairman of Agri Aware.

Floundering forests: The challenges facing the Irish forestry industry>
I’m 27. I’m living at home. Going through the same hall door since I was in a school uniform’>


Your Voice
Readers Comments
This is YOUR comments community. Stay civil, stay constructive, stay on topic. Please familiarise yourself with our comments policy here before taking part.
Leave a Comment

    Leave a commentcancel