Latest Laois News: Letter of the Day gives food for thought for farmers and society
Whereto now for Rural Ireland asks ‘Letter of the Day’
Into the alphabet soup of Irish farming organisations plops the Farmers’ Alliance.
In media briefings FA spokespersons have said the organisation will focus on repairing the image of farmers eking out a living from the soil.
It may come as a revelation to farming organisations, urban dwellers, and the media, but rural Ireland is not a homogeneous farming neighbourhood.
Many non-farming people live and work in the countryside, commute from the countryside to work or have retired to a rural lifestyle.
Like farmers, they face issues that affect the quality of their lives and their participation in society.
Ranging from poor road infrastructure, non-existent digital connection, a dearth of social services, local planning decisions that defy proper rural development, a light-touch policing presence, and so on.
On a daily basis they see the effects of industrial farming on the countryside as farmers shred basic neighbourly tenets and use the countryside and its roads network as their factory floor without a thought for the views or eyes/ears of those who share the rural space.
The Irish farming community is a sliver of the Irish population.
Entitled to be heard, but not entitled to be above scrutiny.
If the FA are donning the jacket of victimhood to say that farmers are being pilloried once again for rural Ireland failings, then that is not a good omen.
Failing into an echo chamber like other farming organisations, the FA is castigating those calling out farming practices.
Overtime their political tractor will drop the tow hitch to provide a support base for issues like live animal exports, hunting, commercial turf cutting, and unfettered rural house building.
Irish society is debating these third-rail issues as Ireland begins to adopt a long-horizon view of its development as a modern nation embracing a climate emergency.
Like its defunct American farming organisation namesake, the Farmers’ Alliance could be a movement culture for change in the Irish countryside.
But if the FA does not bring every rural dweller onside by adopting a modern future-proof thinking to rural issues, it has, in sporting parlance, lost the farmyard.
Chairperson-Waterford Animal Concern