Farming Back in Fashion

Posted: May 2, 2012 in Other Shuff
Tags: , ,

Published in The Connaught Telegraph October 2011.

Farmers rejoice, your day has arrived. The jobs still have to be done but if it’s any comfort, you can now do them while the rest of the country thinks you’re cool.

It’s ok, don’t expect an influx of young townies into Balla mart anytime soon (even with the revamp), but farming is experiencing a resurgence and a change in its public image that didn’t seem at all likely a few years ago.

The ploughing championships a number of weeks ago were proof, if needed, of this change in attitude. RTE pushed out the boat sending the lovely Sharon Ni Bheolain way out of her comfort zone in Montrose, to dip her paws into the damp surrounds of Athy. ‘

‘The ploughing’ has always been easy opportunity for the usually disinterested media to tap into the mood of farmers. In the past cue the IFA’s poor hand PR and apocalyptic predictions for Irish farming; probably fair enough complaints at the time but not great for the old, ‘farmers are always moaning stereotype’.

However, this time everyone got the positive sound bites they wanted, with farming now being pushed by political and business leaders as the driving force of the Irish economy.

The media is in love with farming these days. Reading the Irish Times you would think people were abandoning their offices by the hundreds heading west for a life on the land. You wouldn’t blame them if you’ve seen the new Bord Bia ads on TV. Farmers never looked or spoke like that in my day.

(Attention women of Mayo who share a preference for rugged farmer type. The aforementioned vision of farming vitality is actually Lochlainn O Mearain, who can be found on a street near you in the Westport area. No stalkers please.)

I’m a dreamer, but personally I look forward to the day where the producing of an IFA membership card in a nightclub will result in mass hysteria among urban and rural female alike. Mock at your peril ladies, he might be one of the few guys in the place who can afford to buy you a drink.

Of course public image has never been a farmer’s first or even second priority. It’s still a struggle and probably always will be for the smaller suckler and sheep herds, but the facts are that cattle and sheep prices are as high as they have been in years while 86 per-cent of young dairy farmers are planning to expand in preparation for the removal of the quota in 2015.

The important thing is young people are placing their futures in farming. Agricultural colleges that were serving only as an uncomfortable reminder of the poor state of farming a number of years ago, turned away over 200 people last year.

We know farming has experienced false dawns before but a measured approach will hopefully reap great rewards for a new positive and forward thinking generation of farmers. Anyway lets enjoy it while we can, the glamour days have arrived lads.

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