So we finally have agreement on the sectoral targets in the climate action plan.
It came at the end of months of very bitter and divisive debate on the issue of agricultural emissions in particular.
Some farmers did themselves no favours with the way they railed against the proposals and against the advocates for higher agri emissions targets.
Equally some of the uninformed comments against dairy farmers have been just as condescending and devoid of much understanding of farming in Ireland.
Agriculture is the largest contributor to greenhouse gas emissions in Ireland. This statistic is a reflection of the fact that it is the largest indigenous industry in the country.
When will it not be the largest? When commenting on agri emissions and that the “national herd” needs to be cut, do people not stand back for a minute and realise that they are talking about actual people’s livelihoods?
I would feel pretty demoralised if I was a farmer listening to the disparaging remarks about my day job.
I would be angry too if I was a farmer listening to some urban based politicians weighing in with their gas lighting of the sector when clearly their comments exposes a complete lack of knowledge of the basics of Irish agriculture.
For example, people say we can’t wait any longer for technology to kick in so we must reduce herd size. That is fair enough but do they think that reducing cow numbers will happen over two or three days next week?
The anti farming sentiment from some quarters is matched by some head in the sand responses from some in the farming community too.
Good farmers have been embarrassed by the views expressed by others on this matter particularly over the past few weeks.
In fact the broad agricultural sector in general has been very poor at communicating its relevance for a long time now. The farming message can be at times clunky and disjointed doing the sector a disservice.
We are also left pulling our hair out when some people come up with utterly fanciful ideas regarding diversification.
The idea that vegetable growing on a large scale in Ireland is an alternative to dairying is simply ridiculous and insulting, yet it still gets trotted out.
There is a reason why there are only a handful of vegetable growers left in Ireland. There are 10 million acres of agricultural land. That is a lot of wheat and vegetables.
It is very patronising to tell a young dairy farmer to sell the cows and grow lettuce or trees instead
And who is going to eat all the vegetables and drink all the oat juice especially since exporting of food is also being decried by the same critics?
And if we encourage livestock farmers to go organic, can they only sell their produce locally?
If people are going to suggest alternatives to dairy and beef farming, at least work out the financial and logistical implications of what they are suggesting before lecturing farmers.
It is very patronising to tell a young dairy farmer to sell the cows and grow lettuce or trees instead. Yet that sort of simplistic populist opinion still manages to get airtime.
Farmers have a point to prove now. They must achieve the emissions reduction target of 25%. They need to get to work on this rather than complaining about the Greens being out to get them.
It should also be incumbent on non farmers to educate themselves better on the complexities of the Irish agricultural system before they get up on their high horses to talk down to the farming community as if they were all halfwits in climate change denial.
If you are looking for Netflix suggestions and if you haven’t already been onto it, the artistically creative“Better Call Saul” is one of the oddest but immensely satisfying series of recent times.