Putting farming into the hands of the elite

The farming and rural community is in uproar with the news of the latest assault on farmers: the proposed plan to cull 200,000 cows out of the national herd. This, we are told by the government and mainstream media, is to help Ireland meet its climate goals. From what I see, it’s more of an own goal, disastrous in every aspect.

The basic premise of the plan, according to the London Telegraph, is to cull 65,000 cows per year for three years. This would help the agriculture industry in reducing emissions of greenhouse gases by 2030. The cost of this mass slaughter for the taxpayer would be €640 million.

Elderly farmers would have the option of retiring early from the land, with the introduction of a new early retirement scheme. The vast majority of the country are over sixty years of age. The implementation of this retirement scheme would cause a considerable reduction in food production from privately owned farms.

Now, the question is, will young farmers take over? Well, no. Such a reduction in the national herd would dissuade any younger person from taking over a farm if they are not allowed to produce. How can you make a living in that situation?

I believe this cull is not primarily about climate change. I think the whole story is being withheld by means of smoke and mirrors. It is a campaign to take agriculture out of the hands of the farming community, leaving huge non-farmer moneyed interests able to buy vast areas of high-quality farmland at rock-bottom prices, leaving the food chain completely in the hands of the elite.

This was what happened in the United States, where entrepreneurs such as Jeff Bezos (Amazon) and Bill Gates (Microsoft) bought 420,000 acres and 270,000 acres, respectively.

This is where Irish agriculture is heading, with large chunks of the best land being swooped upon by wealthy foreign investors. With the inevitable increase in food prices, this will affect everyone, in particular urban and rural low-paid workers and those on state benefits, with the food chain controlled by a minority of the elite. Farmers and rural areas are being sold out to capitalist exploitation; but everyone believes it is to save the planet.

The minister for agriculture, Charlie McConalogue, was reportedly shocked by the protests against the mass cull by the IFA and ICMSA. Well, that’s why we pay membership fees to those organisations; so they do contribute significant opposition to such measures. However, not in this case. It seems the minister was shocked at the two organisations in question, because they are part of a Food Vision Dairy Group that recommended that the country should explore the option of a voluntary reduction scheme.

Seeing the general reaction of the farmers made them fear for their lofty wages; and so we now have the rather hollow howls of protest. To anyone who knows the IFA and similar farm organisations, this does not come as a big surprise.