Beef: Pride has been restored to farming despite all our problems
As we waited for the daffodils to remind us that spring had arrived, their place was usurped by the sudden appearance of multi-coloured election posters on nearly every telephone and lamp post in the country. These posters, some with lush green backgrounds, others with images of bright blue skies and deep golden hues now dominate our landscape.
With voting day rapidly approaching this is probably a good time to take a quick look at what has been happening in farming over the last five years.
Unfortunately very little has happened in cattle farming with incomes continuing to remain unsustainably low. The critically important de-coupled Single Payment Scheme has now morphed into the 'Basic Payment' scheme. There have also been some adjustments in the level of these payments with reductions to larger beneficiaries while smaller beneficiaries have seen modest increases to their payments.
During the 2013 CAP reform debate, efforts by some prominent politicians to transform EU beef support payments into a populist form of social welfare scheme did not succeed. It is interesting to note, however, that repercussions from these events are still being felt by one of our farming organisations.
I believe that the single most important change over the last five years is that a real sense of pride has been restored to Irish farming. For the first time ever, the Irish public now appear to fully appreciating how critically important agriculture is to our economy.
I believe Minister Simon Coveney, whom I have often been critical of in the past, deserves much credit.
So what have our farming organisations been up to during the same period?
Leaving aside recent controversy, it is difficult to see any hope for the future of cattle farming emerging from any of our farming organisations. Their constant huffing and puffing would appear to be more about justifying their own existence than actually helping farmers.