Why our long, hot summer could lead to empty supermarket shelves in the autumn
Warren Buffet said, "Only when the tide goes out do you discover who has been swimming naked".
As an analogy for disappearing water bodies, this is particularly apt given the current dry spell which is revealing all kinds of weaknesses in Irish agriculture. We can blame the weather for our woes, but farmers whingeing about the weather is a little tiresome.
What we haven't done is encourage variety and stability into the Irish agricultural structure. Over the last 30 years, we have done exactly the opposite, forcing farmers to specialise, forcing regions to specialise, eliminating resource reserves, stacking the odds against survival in times of trouble.
The decimation of tillage is a case in point. The last two seasons have seen plenty of trouble for tillage growers outside of the eastern seaboard. The poor weather and lack of support has resulted in many growers giving up tillage.
Fast-forward to this year, when it's the eastern seaboard that looks likely to be the area suffering, this time from drought.
Those lost acres of tillage along the western seaboard where rainfall levels have been better would be extremely useful now this year. But these acres are gone. By concentrating tillage into specific regions, poor weather events have much more pronounced effects than they would have if sectors were more spatially located. The potato and vegetable industries are other examples.
These sectors have been allowed to practically disappear in a haze of indifference as the intermediaries and supermarkets here have become addicted to imports from the UK and mainland Europe.
Now that most of Europe is also suffering from drought and late plantings, not to mention the word 'Brexit', empty supermarket shelves could be a reality in the autumn as intermediaries suddenly have to work a lot harder to get supply.