Believe it or not, while I’ve been an IFA member since birth, I’ve never taken part in an IFA protest. In fact, you’d probably be more likely to see me campaigning with the Mothers Union for more Fairtrade coffee than you would with an IFA placard. (The worthy Mothers Union does actually exist – it’s a prayerful version of ICA or WI in the wee North). I’ve never campaigned with the Mothers Union either, though in today’s gender-neutral world, I’d say I could join. I’m pretty sure you can be a male mother nowadays.

But it’s more than that. I think the whole PC gender identity thing has gone crazy. Now you can’t ask for a female hydraulic coupling or a male BSP nipple without someone saying you’re being sexist.

However, I’ve digressed badly.Back to my stellar career in farm politics.

I was never particularly motivated to join any protests. I’m not convinced that standing at meat factory gates around a brazier achieves very much. Or sending 500 tractors (of which it seems the majority have to be new or new-looking John Deeres) into Dublin achieves very much either, other than annoying hard-pressed commuters, which is not in our interest.

During the silage season motorists are tortured quite enough when stuck behind swaying tri-axle silage trailers while the oblivious young driver is uploading a video on Instagram.

For all of that I admire the French farmers. They know how to protest. Cleaning up your farmyard and dumping the lot outside the Dáil appeals to me.

It would be more effective than a silly look-at-me-and-my-shiny-tractor-parade.

The Greens in Government have become the tail wagging dog and farmers are weary.

I’m tired hearing them harping on about organic conversion. It doesn’t feed a hungry world and never will.

Farmer protests here and across Europe at the moment are, in my view, justified. I’m ignoring the Brits, as they’re the authors of their own misfortune.

The majority of farmers there voted for Brexit. They have no one else to blame except, perhaps, their shameful politicians.


But farmers are becoming totally sick of ever-increasing regulation and income collapse in the wake of Putin’s war. Our livelihoods are being threatened, like never before.

We are being victimised and blamed for everything from climate change to river pollution and with not a word of thanks for producing superbly healthy food.

Legitimate and effective protest is only right and proper.

With all this in mind, when Meath IFA was organising a protest outside the opulent offices of the county council, I was there, along with many others. The county councillors hadn’t even the courtesy to invite us in to air our grievances, on what was a very cold day with a biting easterly wind. There were a few tractors (which was enough) and even a slurry tanker, but I think it was empty – the next time it could be full.


It’s incredible how the Siberian wind dried the land and it’s just what’s required at this time. Fieldwork resumed on 8 March and (with great delight) I spread 30t of fertiliser before dusk.

It’s certainly therapeutic to be out in the fields again, but the legacy of last autumn lives on.

We’ve lost 106 acres of wheat and the remaining patchy crops are not exciting either. With all things considered and tumbling grain prices, it’s not looking like a great year and farmers are edgy. The politicians would be well advised to pray for better weather. The Mothers Union could show them how.