Have you ever not joined something because you felt you would not be welcome, or that you “didn’t fit”? Have you ever not applied for a job because you felt that they wouldn’t give it to “someone like me”?
I have heard these comments time and time again over the years in various organisations. What often happens is that if people don’t see themselves featured or represented in groups, they can then assume – sometimes justifiably, sometimes not – that this is because they are not welcome. And a rolling confirmation bias emerges. Many agri organisations are trying to break these chains of bias. But effort to do so is required as this can be deep seated and many people, even when approached, will still believe “that isn’t for people like me.”
I would think that there is more than enough space for everyone
However, an organisation can only be representative of different people if diverse people put themselves forward.
There are over 100 pages of news, technical information and features printed in every Irish Farmers Journal. So I would think that there is more than enough space for everyone. Therefore, I was a little dismayed when Janine, who starts a three-part series about regenerative farming this week, told me that some farmers she approached for the series felt that “the Irish Farmers Journal doesn’t represent me”.
There is nothing wrong with not buying into someone else’s system
Are you yourself prejudiced to forms of agriculture different to your own? I think it has never been more important for farmers operating what may seem like unorthodox farming systems, or using alternative farming methods, to explain why they do it their way and what the benefits are.
There is nothing wrong with not buying into someone else’s system. For some, an efficient high-input system works really well, for others an extensive system is best for their land and life. And as the saying goes: “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” Labour or time can dictate, and income of course.
There was a time when debate was educational
For many, any potential income foregone that could impact on children’s education is too much of a risk. And it is vital that the economics of different systems are clear.
Most systems have their place, prejudice becomes an issue when one farmer knocks another. There was a time when debate was educational. Now, in the social media era, it is polarising. And that prejudice is not reserved to practises like Korean natural farming – the aforementioned feature. It can also be once-a-day milking or zero grazing or dairy beef. Diversity is not just beneficial when for gender or race, diversity in agriculture is good too. We all have something to learn.
Another comment that I have heard from farmers is that a child may want to come home to farm but does not want to farm the current system. If an agreement cannot be reached on this it causes a stumbling block to diversity of thought and the future of the farm.
In the last of our succession series, Margaret Nolan and Declan McEvoy from ifac are talking about pensions and taxation. Agri solicitor Aisling Meehan also responds to a reader’s letter as to “why is it more expensive to transfer land while my father is still alive than it would be on his death?”
Not to give Aishling’s advice away but, as my grandad always said to me: “Amii, there are only two things you have to do in life – die and pay taxes.” And it matters not what type of farming you practise, that is set in stone.