Farm Ireland
Independent.ie

Monday 5 December 2016

Confusion reigns in the world of agricultural policy making

Ann Fitzgerald

Published 07/10/2015 | 02:30

Pictured enjoying the sunshine while bailing hay at Kilmore, Bandon Co Cork was Hughie O'Donovan aged 93 with his son William and Niamh Lucey and her children Fionn, Aibheann and Oran and their dog Lilly. Photo: Denis Boyle
Pictured enjoying the sunshine while bailing hay at Kilmore, Bandon Co Cork was Hughie O'Donovan aged 93 with his son William and Niamh Lucey and her children Fionn, Aibheann and Oran and their dog Lilly. Photo: Denis Boyle

In the world of confusion, there are apples but no oranges. In the world of confusion, there's a moon but no sky. In the world of confusion, there's running but no climbing.

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One evening last week, our 11-year-old daughter Sarah came home from a youth meeting, buzzing with this word puzzle, called the World of Confusion. It consists of a series of statements which have a common link and the objective is to work out the link.

You try it, Mammy, said Sarah.

I figured that, since it was kids' puzzle, the link had to be a fairly simple one.

I asked for another example.

In the world of confusion, there are knees but no legs, she said.

So I tried. In the world of confusion, there are elbows but no arms. No.

Once you've worked it out, and perhaps you already have, it all seems so obvious but, until you do, it's frustrating.

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At one point, Robin thought he'd got it, that the connection was alphabetical. Alas, it was not.

When you work it out, you'll be kicking yourself, we gleefully told him.

In the world of confusion, there's a Daddy but no clue, she said.

What's the point in this? he asked.

You work it out so you can do it yourself, she replied.

Oh feck, he said, I thought it would at least mean you could solve the third secret of Fatima.

I'm sure most people have worked it out long before now but, in our defence, it's harder when the statements are being spoken rather than being written.

My point in saying all this is that there are actions presently being taken, or indeed not being taken, from every step of our political and economic ladders right down to individual farm level. In all cases someone currently believes these actions are correct but which will not turn out to be so in the fullness of time. Of course, some of these things strike out of the blue, like BSE, but, for others, there are warning signs.

The recent Agricultural Science Association conference was told that carbon is the new quota. Now, I don't understand much about these things but surely one solution to this would be that livestock numbers would fall or at least not increase.

Instead, there is a continued drive to increase numbers in the dairy and beef sectors, as per Food Harvest 2020 and its successor, Food Wise 2025, while the focus on reducing carbon in Irish agriculture seems to be almost entirely focussed on improving animal efficiencies.

As if it doesn't matter how many food producing animals there are as long as they are more efficient.

Then there's the state investment in wind energy, with similar support for solar energy expected to soon follow suit. There is far less talk about small-scale forestry.

Will the big long-term winners be corporate investors and primary product processors, rather than family farms, small agri-businesses or rural economies and communities or even the environment? Are there elephants in the room not being seen?

Anyway, back to our game and the final giveaway clue; in the world of confusion, there's Aaron but no Aran.

The link is that the noun or verb in the first part of the sentence has to contain a letter, any letter, repeated twice, side by side. The second part of the sentence is irrelevant; the apparent connection is a red herring.

So in the world of confusion, there's Russia but no Portugal, soccer but no rugby ­- as Sarah announced to groans just as we were about to sit down to watch Ireland v Italy in the World Cup - tillage but no crops, butter but no milk, beef but no lamb.

The game kept us laughing and the grey matter exercised for a few days and, indeed, for the amusement of the girls, Robin kept it up long after he had worked out the answer.

Indo Farming