Traffic was a standstill in Dublin yesterday as hundreds of farmers blocked the city streets with tractors in protest at, among other things, the price they’re getting for their beef.
Judging from the numbers of Gardaí (police) present and the huge metal barriers they’d erected across some of the streets, closing them to both pedestrians and traffic, you’d swear it was terrorists and not farmers driving the tractors.
Whatever happened to good old civil disobedience? In days of yore when we wanted to protest, that's exactly what we did. We didn't go asking permission from the very people we were protesting against, giving them the opportunity to batten down the hatches and pull up the drawbridge. We took the bastards by surprise and left them trailing in our wake scurrying to muster their troops.
Dublin people aren’t too appreciative of culchies coming up to the big smoke and causing mayhem. I don't think they understand the concept of farming and think food comes from Lidl and Aldi. I must say, having read a bit about the protests, my sympathies lie with the farmers.
These are the people producing the food we eat and they’re expected to sell their produce to the processing plants at below cost. There are huge profits being made in this industry but all at the other end of the chain. The farmers are being screwed over by both the factories and the retailers.
You have companies like Norbrook (the pharmaceutical company who produce animal health products) and Alltech (the feed ingredient company) as well as the meat processors like Larry Goodman who make it onto Ireland’s rich list, while back down on the farm they're depending upon handouts from Europe under the CAP scheme (common agricultural policy) forced to sell to the processing plants and retailers at less than the cost of production. The supermarkets may be plying you with cheap food, but you're paying for it in taxes to Europe to feed the 58 billion a year CAP fund.
How does that make any sense at all?
Over 90% of meat processing is done by just three big companies, the largest owned by Larry Goodman, yet the Competition and Consumer Protection Commission has said there is “no evidence of a cartel” and nothing to investigate. Could it be that Simon Coveney, the ex-minister for agriculture, is nephew-in-law of Beef Baron Larry Goodman? No conflict of interest there!
Now the government has another stick with which to beat the farmers; carbon emissions! What do you do about emissions? Why you impose a tax, of course, to pay for the big machine we’re building to fix the climate.
You’d imagine that if the climate crisis was being driven by carbon dioxide that TPTB would be anxious to avoid the emissions produced by food being moved around the world. But no. The Irish government has recently signed a trade deal allowing the importation of beef from South America where the cost of production is lower and less regulated than Europe.
Whether you believe the anthropogenic/carbon induced climate change hoax or understand that the sun is the principal driver of the climate cycle, you’ll agree that the changing climate means unfavourable growing conditions. This is a time when we should be concentrating on increasing food production, but according to the European Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development Europe could be losing as many as 1000 farms a day. Young farmers are also deserting the land in droves, taking with them all the skills acquired over generations.
So where’s all our food going to come from? The laboratory? Soylent Green anyone?
All images are my own