'Derisory attitudes' undermining small farmers' confidence

A “derisory attitude” to small farmers from the general public and even within elements of the farming community has been identified as a major threat to the survival of the country’s high nature value (HNV) holdings.

Teagasc sociologist Áine Macken-Walsh told a recent meeting in Carrick-on-Shannon that a combination of “poor recognition” of small farmers’ work, and “poor profits” could ultimately undermine confidence in the sector.

She claimed there was little appreciation within Irish society of small farmers and the public goods they delivered, and she contrasted the negative public attitude towards those who worked small extensive units to the positive perception of dairy farmers.

Ms Macken-Walsh claimed that the derisory attitude towards small farmers extended to the farming community and even to some of the farm organisations.

“Are they [extensive small farmers] as valued as the large dairy farmer, and why not, why aren’t they as valued?” Ms Macken-Walsh asked.

She pointed out that a Teagasc study last year found that extensive small farms had lower carbon emissions than more intensive units.

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