So it looks like the army representing agriculture in the information wars is about to get a new battalion. Declan O’Brien breaks the story in this week’s paper that discussions are advancing towards a new organisation that will present information to the general public setting out the truth around farming.

There is no doubt that when it comes to the information war around food production, the general public is the crucial player. And it is being bombarded with conflicting views of the merits and value to society of farming.

Dairy and meat production is either essential to humanity, as the global population adds a billion people every 15 years, or it is destroying the planet, gobbling up land resources and emitting vast amounts of methane.

The same people who decry animal farming hold that crop production, particularly in the first world and the likes of China and Brazil, is filthy, addicted to pesticides and chemical fertiliser that destroys insects and bees, undermining ecosystems as a result. Only organic farming is regarded as acceptable to this viewpoint.

So it’s understandable that agriculture wants to present its side of the story. But do we need a new player on the pitch? Why aren’t Agri Aware, the National Dairy Council, Bord Bia and Meat and Dairy Facts enough?

Firstly, resources are very limited in those organisations. Agri Aware’s total annual funding of around €500,000 is less than some individual animal welfare organisations currently putting massive ads on billboards in strategic locations around the country.

As a result, they have focused much of their efforts in recent years on schools and schoolchildren. Mol an Óige and all that. And that is an entirely valid approach, for the children of today are the swing voters and shoppers of 10 years’ time.

Meat and Dairy Facts was set up by stakeholders including Bord Bia, Teagasc, the National Dairy Council, the IFA and ICMSA, and both Meat Industry Ireland and Dairy Industry Ireland. That’s a broad church. The tillage and fruit and vegetable sectors might feel a little left out there.

My understanding, according to what has reached my ears, is that this will be an extension of the Meat and Dairy Facts model, replacing it rather than competing for resources.

A broader alliance will be at times uneasy. There are issues of conflict between sectors, particularly around animal feed imports, standards and equivalence.

Separately, farmers and processors, especially meat processors, may have moved on from the dark days of 2019, but could we say there is a bond of trust there?

The message to the public needs to be consistent, logical, and from a trusted source. And significant funding will have to come from somewhere, but farmers, already paying their memberships and levies to farm organisations, Bord Bia, the NDC and dairy co-ops, will need convincing before putting their hands in their pockets again.