FARMERS have often been accused, and with good reason, of crying wolf over the state of Ireland’s agri-industry.
In these troubled times, however, it would be rash to dismiss as mere whinging the dire warnings emanating from the farming community.
Nobody can deny farmers are in deep trouble. The dairy sector is haemorrhaging money forcing many farmers out of business or worse. Beef and sheep producers are also experiencing severe losses. And much of the cereal crop has been ruined by the wettest summer on record. It is timely, therefore, to heed the warning of the Agricultural Science Association that farmers risk going the way of Britain’s coal miners unless a national strategy is put in place for this vital plank of the economy. There is a real danger that swingeing cuts imposed by Government and proposed by An Bord Snip will lead to thousands of job losses.
That bleak outlook is supported by economist Jim Power, who claims the policies of successive governments have created a relatively low-value industry and failed to develop and exploit Ireland’s image as a “food island”. With farming mired in a deep crisis, rural communities could be virtually wiped out unless positive strategies are put in place. It is time to shout stop.
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