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Thursday, August 18, 2022

John Heaney: Farmers lost in the dark fog of confusion

While consumers are concerned about rising cost of living, 2022 has also been a really challenging year for farmers.

As well as a dramatic increase in input costs, hay management this year has been exceptionally difficult.

The sunny dry weather this summer may have been pleasant, but they come at a cost. When the rain came back it was very welcome, but with it the cooler night temperatures meant that development was very disappointing.

It is expected that the recent increase in night temperature will bring development back on track.

Luckily for me, I have after some hay available to complement my grazing paddock. This should give my fashionable, multi-species old pasture, with its naturally occurring abundance of white clover, extra time to recover before resuming my normal grazing pattern.

I can only guess how my cattle are doing. They look fine, but as is the case every year, I’ll have to wait for the first load to sell out before I really know.

Recently I came across Cognitive Dissonance Theory, which is attributed to Leon Festinger, the American social psychologist. Cognitive dissonance occurs when people and groups try to come up with conflicting values ​​that they hold.

This theory, I believe, can largely explain the confusion about the future of Irish farming and the dark fog of double-speech that seeps through the aisles of Agriculture House and Del ireann.

It is difficult to understand why, with our world-renowned growing climate and rich soils ideally suited for hay production, livestock farmers live under the foreshadowing of a big green European Union guillotine.

It was great to be back at the Grange for their Beef 2022 Open Day on June 5th after the Covid-enforced break, but that’s how things have changed.

Apparently driven by changing environmental policies, instead of simply promoting high cost, high output systems, a new set of production systems are increasingly being looked at, especially from the point of view of biodiversity and efficiency.

The message I got was that the way forward is to produce more for less by adopting more efficient, sustainable systems that suit the circumstances of each farmer.

Such growth should be welcomed, especially with its continued profit margins in the beef sector.

Plus, after years of being deliberately overlooked, there was a huge focus on protecting our natural environment, with a lot of information advising.

Unfortunately, it is now being left to the hard-working people in our research and advisory services to come up with ways to help undo the confusion and environmental destruction caused by decades of flawed EU agricultural policies. try.

An enormous amount of work is being done to undo the damage and neglect that has been done to our environment.

However, I must admit that when I saw a large video screen at Johnstown Castle promoting an upcoming environmental open day, it was announced that we must “take care of our species-rich meadows” So I cried. It was difficult to reconcile such aspirations with some of what I was hearing during the day.

Much has certainly been achieved, it appears we still have some way to go before we can completely eradicate the unnecessary discrepancies in our agricultural policies, and the devastating stress and anxieties that Irish farmers face. cause causes.

John Heaney Farms at Kilfeckle, Co Tipperary

World Nation News Desk
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