Gritty farmers plough through downpour
PRESIDENT Michael D Higgins has praised farmers as "real people producing real things" rather than members of the "speculative economy".
Speaking at the opening of the Ploughing Championships, which attracted 52,000 visitors to New Ross, Co Wexford yesterday, he said the event had represented "the rich tapestry of rural life" since 1931.
The President continued: "It is a great celebration of those who were not really affected by the speculative economy, upon which the chapter is now closed.
"And they are people who are producing real things with real work and producing a huge proportion of our exports."
The President said he had spent his formative years on a small farm in Co Clare, almost prior to milking machines and certainly before much of the technology that could be seen at this year's event.
The application of science and technology could be most readily seen in farming where it was applied to breeding and machinery, he said.
The Ploughing Championships were a major success story in promoting Irish agriculture, which had moved far from the days when Irish food was sold into the cheapest markets.
"Our Irish agricultural products are in the best places, in the best shops in the countries of the world because people have adapted and have valued excellence," the President said.