Prospects for the agricultural sector

Those interested in the fortunes of the real economy, and specifically the agricultural sector, might find my assessment of the prospects for farming in the current issue of eolas of interest. The editorial tagline does a good job of summarising its gist.

The agricultural sector is recovering. However, dependence on direct payments, climate change [targets] and ageing farmers are potential problems.

By the way, there are many other interesting articles in the magazine, its well worth a read.

32 thoughts on “Prospects for the agricultural sector”

  1. Landowners play a constructive role in discussions with tenant farmers
    Published on 12 April 2012

    Andy Wightman is, I believe, mistaken in his view that landowners are an impediment to reaching consensus within the Tenant Farmer Forum, or TFF (”Scottish Government must tackle tenancy problems”, The Herald, April 10).

    As a TFF representative for Scottish Land & Estates, I can assure Mr Wightman that we play a constructive role in all discussions and have been party to a number of decisions made for the benefit of tenants.

    I would point to the prohibition of upwardly only rent reviews and the addition of grandchildren to the class of beneficiaries as two examples.

    A vibrant tenanted sector requires the agreement of all parties within the TFF, which exists to provide improvements for the sector as a whole as opposed to undertaking unilateral action solely for the benefit of tenant farmers or any other group.

    In a recent important court ruling, it was in fact the landlord’s human rights that may have been breached. The concept of rights should surely apply to both parties.

    Mr Wightman champions a policy that would force landlords to sell agricultural property which they let as part of their business, almost at any cost.

    Every industry must evolve and improve; surely the most sensible way to achieve those collective goals is through cross-industry dialogue.

    Andrew Howard,

    Scottish Land & Estates,

    Stuart Mills House,

    Musselburgh.

  2. Not a fan of Bio diesel production but the importation of bio diesel is the craziest EU hair brained scheme of all time and illustrates what a mad “energy policey” really looks like
    Four bio diesel factories ‘mothballed’ – The Irish Times – Thu, Apr 21 …2011
    SEÁN MacCONNELL, Agriculture Correspondent

    FOUR BIODIESEL plants which could be processing 60 million litres of renewable fuel for the Irish economy have been “mothballed” because of cheap imports of bio fuels from outside the EU, the National Bioenergy Conference was told yesterday.

    The only logical reason for biofuel production is to give a country a maeasure of redundency from outside energy shocks.
    Whats the point of importing the stuff ?
    The final energy input costs must be enormous , as it only makes marginal sense when production & distribution is close to each other.

    In terms of the Y2010 energy balance figures we imported 35KTOE of liquid biofuel……. not sure if this is all biodiesel or maybe some bioethanol.
    I reckon we imported more in Y2011.

    Madness Squared.

  3. How about a land tax to encourage a little dynamism in the agricultural welfare sector, and take a little of the pressure of the landless serfs? That said, the physiocrats have been well entrenched since the Napoleonic wars of the early 19thC and the switch from grain to cattle.

    Geologically and meterologically speaking, the future should be bright for agriculture around here. Apologies for rare use of the ‘prescriptive’.

    Value added locally is where it is at. There exist a few exemplars – Kerry and Carbery come to mind … worth minding.

  4. “In the long-run, high direct payments drive up land prices, making the cost of entering farming (for young farmers) or expanding (for enterprising farmers) extraordinarily expensive.”

    I recall the commonplace joke from a long time ago about farmers always complaining about something and never acknowledging their wealth. It had been passed down through generations (the joke, that is).

    The alternative presentation might be :

    “”In the long-run, high direct payments drive up land prices, making farmers rich.”

    But that would probably be farmer abuse.

    “Over time, a gradual reduction in the untargeted, across-the board payment would encourage necessary structural change and allow more efficient farmers to manage a higher proportion of the available land.”

    No urgency: …”Over time, a gradual reduction..”

    “Less than 7 per cent of Irish farmers are under 35 years of age, and 45 per cent are over 55. While this demographic structure has characterised Irish farming for some time, it is an unpromising basis as a platform to launch a major increase in output.”

    OK. I wonder why? Actually, no I don’t…:

    Farmers are privileged by having a bonzer tax break on CGT.

    “….There is an important Capital Gains Tax relief to assist farmers to transfers within the family called Retirement Relief.

    In order to avail of this relief the farmer:
    Must be aged 55 years or more at date of disposal, disposing of “qualifying assets”, owned by him/her for the “qualifying period”

    Actually, super-bonzer because:

    “This particular relief is part of “Retirement Relief” and is available regardless of whether or not the farmer retires. This means that qualifying farmers over 55 years who sell sites or parts of their farm will be free from capital gains tax on amounts up to €750,000 ”

    Then of course, there is the bonzer Farmers’ income tax wheeze – with 40+ requirement:

    “The rents received from the letting of land can be exempt from income tax. In order to qualify for the exemption, the following conditions have to be met.

     The farmer must be over 40 years of age or must be permanently incapacitated from carrying on a trade of farming.
     The land must be let under a formal lease. This lease must be in writing and must be for a definite term of five years or more.
     The relief doesn’t apply if the land is let to a spouse, brother, sister, child, grandchild or parent. It will apply though if it is let to niece/nephew or aunt/uncle.

    For example the following amounts of rent can be received annually tax-free:
     Term of lease is between 5 and 7 years – €12,000
     Term of lease is between 7 and 10 years – €15,000
     Term of lease is over 10 years – €20,000”

    (Note, I think the 20,000 only applies if the lease was in existence in 2007).

    Then there is the “Fair Deal Scheme”. You can shelter a farm from being taken into account in calculating your “means” for compulsory contributions to nursing home fees.

    “The Fair Deal Scheme allows that those needing Nursing Home care will contribute 80% of their income plus 5% of the value of their assets per annum. The first €36,000 per individual or €72,000 per couple of asset value is not counted. However, the ‘asset’ that is your principal residence will only be included in the financial assessment for the first three years of the person’s time in care. This is known as the 15% or ‘three year’ cap.”

    Farming assets (farms can be big and worth millions) are sheltered in the same way a principal residence is provided:

    “Firstly, the nursing home admission must be as a result of a sudden illness or disability; secondly, the person or their partner must have been engaged in the daily management of the farm at the time of admission and, thirdly, a family successor must certify that he or she will continue the management of the farm.”

    (Don’t forget the bonzer wheeze that allows a farmer to value his farm at only 10% of its market value for Capital Acquisition Tax purposes – so a €5m farm is taxed as if it was worth only half a mill, whereas if he had sold it and his beneficiaries subsequently received cash legacies the state would get a lot more tax)

    Now given the cash-strapped state of the state, I wonder – if something is to be done by government to address the age profile of farmers, what are the chances of these distorting tax breaks being abolished?

    I would bet there would more likely be a vocal campaign to extend this preferential treatment to all farmers instead – fiscal crisis or not.

  5. Oh, Grumpy, you are such a tease. I think you know perfectly well that hell will freeze over before there will be any meaningful reform in this area – and any that might emerge will most likely be driven by EU-level reform of the CAP . You could, alternatively and perhaps more productively, wonder aloud, but maybe on another thread, about how the Government is doing wrt the recommendations of the Review Group on State Assets. Now there hangs a tale.

  6. I am sure economists have all kinds of models guesstimating the influence of CAP on land prices, and personally I don’t doubt that some influence exists, however the policy behind the Land Commission must bear a deal of responsibility for current land prices.

    Secondly land prices have tumbled since the highs of the Bubble years. No one investing in land in the years immediately leading into the Bubble or even now post-Bubble is doing so based on any calculation of commercial yield. It is not practical in Ireland, there may be odd exceptions, currently to purchase land that returns a commercial yield.

    I can recall a farm sold for 6.5 million during the Bubble which was knocked down a year and half ago for 1.5 million – averaging 10k per acre.

    The point I am making, probably badly, is that the general availability of credit during the Bubble made farming unattractive – it was nearly impossible to meet the labour rates offered on the building sites.

    It was possible in the early late 80s and 90s to do very nicely from corn and dairying. Interest rates were high but land prices were low (relative to the post-EEC land bubble, another nightmare that policy makers and bankers seemed to have forgotten). During the Bubble these suffered a decline. Now prices have come up but input costs are rising and trimming the margins.

    I agree with the general thrust of Alan Matthews piece that past and current policies have cemented artificially high land prices in place. Ultimately the failure to tie CAP payouts, and much of the efficient Irish agriculture is outside CAP, to something approaching business planning consolidated traditional attitudes.

    Never the less, it is my experience farmers are amongst the most innovative and self-reliant group in Irish society. Maybe less CAP will bring it more of that.

  7. The price (artificial or otherwise) of land is not the salient issue. Its the nature of that land (good, mediocre, or poor) to produce a food crop, not an agricultural crop. It great if you end up with a surplus, sell it, and get cash. The bonus is that you may be able to raise a family as well.

    Irish agri as currently configured is completely unsustainable (in the aggregate). Unsustainable. I’ll leave folks (‘cpt Dork) to figure out why.

    I estimate that there are 20,000 manual labour type (grindingly hard, with sh***y pay, and real sh*** conditions) availabe right now. It would take about 18 months of very dedicated admin work to get that organized. But hell, no one wants to work down on the farm. So its a non-starter.

    If we went down the bohereen advocated by Dork (build-out more rail infrastructure, expand the land acerage by removing or re-shaping hedgerows and wide margins, planting thousands of broadleaves, you could increase the workforce to about 100,000. Land maintenance, especially the road verges, is an essential, but very neglected activity. Would hardly make a dint on the employment figures, but it would help build-out , in part, the basis of a ‘sustainable’ economy.

    I’d put the fetish with biodeisel production on a par with Fracking – both are acts of environmental, econcomic and social terrorism. But who the hell cares? Only the folk who want to transport their precious fleshy bums about in private, liquid fuelled chariots.

    We’ll be back at this agri thing; make no mistake. Folk gotta eat.

  8. @Brian
    Know next to nothing about agri except perhaps the highlands of Ireland have been seriously damaged by 1980s and after stock levels.

    However Agriculture is the most classic example of the input / output equation.
    If you want to reduce energy inputs you increase employment inputs,its that simple on one level at least.
    I imagine the costs of getting stuff to market has increased dramatically over these past few years.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FjyEsh-dCmM

    The fluid nature of Energy dynamics can change things in profound ways over time.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t8OlST8kEBg

    Lorries not only require cheap oil , but cheap credit to buy them as they have a much shorter working lifespan.
    Agriculture without subsidies is a energy tightrope.

  9. The French give preference to land acquisition by young farmers.

    What is striking about Ireland is the very low non-welfare farm income.
    According to a Teagasc survey, average farm income from the market place, excluding direct payments, was €1,360 in 2005 (only 6% of Family Farm Income – – FFI) compared to €2,010 in 2004 a decline of 32%.

    On full-time farms average FFI was €40,483 compared to €30,650 in 2004, an increase of 32%. The average FFI for part-time farms was €11,372 (€6,407 in 2004), an increase of 77%.

    Total direct payments/subsidies per farm increased by 56% between 2004 and 2005. As a percentage of FFI, direct payments/subsidies were at 94% in 2005 (87% in 2004).

    There was bonanza of €4bn from the national roadbuilding program alone, never mind the mqanna from heaven from other development land sales.

    Also in ‘eolas’ is this gem from Danny McCoy, the DG of IBEC:

    He wants Ireland to become the most prosperous region of the EU. “Today, we’re 133 per cent of the European average in GDP terms,” McCoy states. “A lot of people believe that our convergence is over. I don’t believe that.” In the last regional figures on GDP, for 2009, Ireland stood at 128 per cent while the Île de France reached 177 per cent, Brussels 223 per cent and inner city London reached 332 per cent.

    “And the reason why I’m confident of that is we’ve got absolutely world class businesses here and it’s not just the US multi-national foreign direct investment. The scale of multi-national indigenous companies is phenomenal for a 4.6 million population. CRH, Glen Dimplex, Paddy Power, Ryanair, Kerry Group, Glanbia: phenomenally large companies and successfully trading.”

    The former ESRI economist may well not believe this pap.

    Here is the reality check because fooling ourselves hardly helps to make the right policy choices:

    Ireland jobless exports surge since 2000: At least one-third the value of services exports overstated

    http://www.finfacts.ie/irishfinancenews/article_1024185.shtml

  10. @Grumpy

    I am old enough to remember when farmers did not have to pay income tax at all [In fairness at that time they paid a substantial amount in rates].
    Not only did the farmers not pay income tax, but any female primary school teacher, who in normal circumstances would pay income tax, was exempted from paying income tax if she married a farmer!
    I am not certain when that particular wheeze was ended.

    @Alan Matthews
    As the agriculture / food industry is of such importance to the economy, I hope to make a more positive comment later. @Grumpy’s comment was too acerbic not to be sweetened a little.

  11. Pay on Irish farms went up like everywhere else. I pay a part time dairy worker €11 an hour plus €15 an hr O/T (take home). The farm manager takes home close to 40k. Agreed, it is a big farm and there are s*** jobs to do- but I do half of them myself on a 12 days on, 2 days off shift.
    For ten boom yrs you couldn’t find an Irishman who was prepared to get his hands dirty. Now those late 20’s/30 somethings are still afraid to shovel muck- when I advertised locally most of the interviewees arrived in shiny shoes and flasher cars than mine. I hired the older man who isn’t afraid to shove his hand up a cow’s ***

  12. @PR
    I am not surprised but still shocked I guess.
    I have come to believe the corruption lies in each centre of power withen each country (exchequer / CBs)
    With these guys reporting to the Dark Market state Lord who wishes to Scour every Shire.
    The Treasuries should merely print base money and tax waste and the railways will be busier then the late 19th century boom / bust period.
    They don’t have to sell such a valuable asset when the money supply is being kept artificially low – which is why it is being kept so low I guess.

    Me thinks when the various multinational orcs have all resourses the Dark lord will instruct his demons to print but only when all power is his.

    It looks like the world of men will fall.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SETi0loCfys

  13. The article suggests that climate change mitigation is a threat to Irish agriculture while climate change itself is not mentioned.

    How do environmental actions affect Irish agriculture?
    * Environmental protection schemes like REPS & AEOS have provided €¼billion/yr net to Irish farmers for actions with wider societal benefits than food mountains/lakes.
    * Renewable energy schemes and biofuel production will principally benefit farmers.
    * New LULUCF accounting rules and action plans proposed last month by the Commission will create opportunities in forestry.

    It’s clear that farm income is fast becoming dependent on green policies and that the IFA habit of opposing anything containing the words ‘climate’ or ‘environment’ is old hat.

  14. OK , I don’t imagine Live cattle will be moved on trains anytime soon as they are a pretty light cargo and a touch messy I suspect.

    But what about Fertilizer ? its Heavy & compact.
    Its a shocking indictment of this countries management really.
    $100 + oil and rail freight has collapsed !!!

    Fertilizer could be loaded off a boat in Waterford.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dS0wqdmLYtM

    Travel up towards the quiet Waterford to Limerick junction line and then on to the even quieter Limerick to Ballybrophy line with little fuss.
    Perhaps create a nodal trucking distribution point in Ballybrophy itself.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n-2ZWZEnlz0

    en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ballybrophy_railway_station

    A distribution point closer to the Golden Vale may also be a option , perhaps at Cahir ,spending a million or so for a new railhead.
    This sort of stuff is likely to save far more (liquid) energy then this tilting at windmills which has sadly become fashionable.

    Question :
    How much truck fertiliser tonnes KMs do we do every year ?

  15. PS .
    Looking at google earth
    The distribution point could be located on the old Silvermines railway spur which is located on the Limerick – Ballybrophy line.

  16. @ Ossian Smyth: “* Renewable energy schemes and biofuel production will principally benefit farmers.”

    Ossian, perhaps you are a tad confused (as most folk apparently are) about ‘renewable’ energy. Sorry, Ossian, there ain’t so so thing. What we do have are some re-usable sources for electricity generation. So, you need the generators, stations and power transmission lines irrespective of your power source, to generate the electricity. And don’t mention those subbies!

    This does not mean that a farmer could not install his/her own generator and have some level of electricity independence. Ask Paul Hunt about this. He’ll promptly put you to ‘rights’and I do not think you will be best pleased with his explanations. Anyway electricity is no good for mobile vehicles.

    The ‘biofuel’ production thingy is a complete and utter scam – energywise, economicallywise and sociallywise. It will only deliver trauma all round. We have to move away – and somewhat quickly from our very heavy dependence on liquid fossil fuels as an agri input. Within a decade these fuels are likely to be rationed out. I’ll leave it to you to sit down and figure out the global, regional and national consequences of this – for food production, not to mind agricultural commodity production.

    Actually, the first global agri shock will be about water resources, not liquid fuels. But that is another story altogether.

    Don’t pay any heed to Dork – has this wasp in his keyboard about railways or some such antique form of transport. They used steam to power their engines for God’s sake! Imagine! 😎

    However, I would point out that in 1912 a letter posted before 10 am in Kenmare would be in Euston Main Sorting Office by 8 am the following morning – for immediate delivery. So, perhaps someone should post up a map of the Irish rail network before our own barbaric Philistines dismantled it and build over the permanent ways. They gave is CIE instead. I have an uneasy feeling we may need those iron rails some day soon – with suitably antique, electric powered locos.

  17. @Brian
    The Beet campaigns would have been impossible without rail based transport.
    (Indeed the ending of sugar production was probally the real reason for the Rosslare port to Waterford railway closure.)
    Its simply about less friction on the surface of the track.
    The heavier the weight & longer the distance the more rail makes sense.
    There has been a complete collapse of road based freight in this country since 2007……. very little is talked about it on this forum so I have to do the talking I guess.
    Y2007 Road freight : 1,255 KTO
    Y2010 Road freight : 733 KTO
    so thats 522KTO less diesel…….burned in trucks ….. incredible.

    Y2007 Rail : 47KTOE…… thats Rail passengers , freight , Luas & Dart folks

    PS ……..there is very deep monetary reasons for the ending of “national effort” activities such as Irish sugar production.
    Its more then free trade , although that is a significant part of the equation , the free trades big sister is the Euro itself.

    It created a credit hyperinflation that pushed out all other activities and its impacts were also felt on a global scale ….. from Brazil to China.
    Also “our” strong currency bought Brazilian sugar….. if we did not have a strong currency we could not buy it.
    If we could not buy the stuff Industry would remain withen this juristiction.
    Its really hard to get a grip of energy equations on a global scale Brian…..our extreme free trade model is a very delicate creature……it has very little redundency built into it.
    Indeed if there was any redundency remaining it would effect profit margins.
    Activities can therefore be too effiecent leaving nothing remaining for events……….
    Animals with such a extreme degree of specializations tend to go extinct when the envoirment changes.
    One Sugar Beet factory and one bioethanol factory would be a investment in redundencey with one being available if the price of the other collapses – It might not be very profitable but thats not the point of such activities.
    It would be a gesture towards independence from the cartel.

    The Heart of Darkness lies withen the Euro itself.

  18. Farmers will benefit from the policies and legislation derived from the renewables directive because they often own the land needed for wind farms,
    geothermal facilities, biomass, biofuels and biogases.

    Emissions per kg of food produced in Ireland are near lowest in Europe so that our farmers will be at a competitive advantage where agricultural climate change mitigation measures are fairly applied across member states.

    http://www.asaireland.ie/LinkClick.aspx?fileticket=McpzGLVvhMY%3D&tabid=971

  19. @Dork: “Brian…..our extreme free trade model is a very delicate creature……it has very little redundency built into it.”

    I’m glad that someone else has also figured this out. Actually, if you apply Nitromors and a blow-lamp to it, you expose a very ugly edifice indeed. Funny how the Econ brigade do not emphaize the really traumatic effect ‘free trade’ has on social cohesion. Inconvenient fact I suppose. Cannot set that into their dopey ‘equilibria’.

    Ossian, I do not think you ‘get it’, with respect to indigenous, family-based farming. No offense you understand. Its just that you appear to possess a somewhat inadequate understanding of the central importance of non-industrial style farming and how it has to be conducted. Go over to http://www.theoildrum.com – they have a massive archive, written by people who seem to know what they are talking about. Its the energy-blog par excellence. The commentaries are a very robust form of peer review: keep a look-out for oldfarmermac in particular. He does know what he is talking about, being a farmer and all.

    A somewhat famous (or infamous) economist, Paul Samuelson, wrote what was regarded as the time (1948), as the definitive undergraduate economics textbook (its US centric, but so what?). He devoted two chapters (4 + 5) to “Individual and Family Income” and “Earnings in Different Occupations”. He singled-out the Family Farm for particular attention. I wonder why? The book is very readable, unlike some of the current undergrad pap.

    @ D: “Animals with such a extreme degree of specializations tend to go extinct when the envoirment changes.”

    Now, you would not have those Terrible Lizards in mind, would you?

  20. Yes , the Munster Fusiliers fought in Iraq and lost quite a few men I gather.

    For example there is a impressive WW1 memorial near the Castle at Cahir….
    homepage.tinet.ie/~tipperaryfame/moreinfo.htm
    Its list a one John Hanrahan, died 30 dec 1917.

    Also have a look a Adams Curtis most recent blog post.
    Adam Curtis – The Medium and the Message BODYBUILDING AND NATION-BUILDING
    Adam Curtis | 18:27 PM, Tuesday, 27 March 2012

    In it he looks at a very strange 1980 talk show where a man named John Glubb was interviewed.
    “Then John Glubb joins them to describe enthusiastically his bombing campaigns in Iraq in the 1920s. He starts by talking about the origin of “Air Control” but then slips away into a practiced, humorous after-dinner set of anecdotes about how the tribes were like little children who spent their time raiding each other – and had to be bombed to make sure they “played fair” like in cricket.
    In an extreme, surreal way the programme illustrates the weird myth of “the noble sheikh” that the British had projected onto Iraq – and the extreme violence needed to sustain that myth.”

    Even the busy M8 built between the Galtees & Cahir may be found to be a waste of money as it requires too much input costs.
    Buses replaced Trans & narrow gauge in the 20s for almost entirely monetary reasons as it adjusted to the new oil glut envoirment (this $ reserve thingy goes back that far)
    The damage done to our rail network during the war of independence & civil war only speeded the process.

    From FOFOA
    “The US exorbitant privilege began at the International Monetary Conference of 1922 when for the first time international banks were allowed to accept not only physical gold, but also US dollars (paper gold) as reserves. But all US dollars held by foreign banks were put on deposit back in New York City banks. And there they were counted as local US deposits, the same as if you and I put our gold into the bank, in addition to being counted abroad.

    These deposits were used as the basis for credit expansion in both the US and in the foreign countries claiming them as reserves. This process doubled the money supply paid out through the US balance-of-payments deficit for the last 88 years (except that money which France demanded in gold). US deficits never contracted the aggregate purchasing power of the US after 1922, the way deficit settlement is supposed to. It also exported US inflation outward. And it continues today. ”

    Tyre on bitumen is a very energy intensive method of transportation , if we don’t get back to rail soon we will deindustrialize as all inputs including basic life support will go into this madness.
    spellerweb.net/rhindex/Ireland/GreatSouthern/Muskerry.html

  21. Artifical land surfaces (Corine land cover)

    Y1990 : 1.5% of land cover.
    Y2000 : 1.9% of land cover.
    Y2006 : 2.3% of land cover.
    I imagine few Bogs were built on…… by and large it was the better land.
    What a waste.
    Google
    Corine Land Cover Data – Environmental Protection Agency, Ireland
    Increase of urban area from Y2000 to Y2006
    Discontinuous urban area : 108,011 (Ha) increase of 14.95%
    Industrial & commerical : 9,737 (ha) increase of 21.91%
    Road & rail : 4,213 (Ha) increase of 126.43%

  22. It is very hard to take seriously anything written about farmer income since the farmers own the next stage and so can set prices they pay themselves. That the exchequer allows this ludicrous state to exist without remark is just incredible. You simply have to think they can’t add two plus two.
    Ever since the foundation of the State, the farmers have had a preferential position. They have sold the rest of us a package of hoo-haw.
    And here is how. If I own land with a herd of cows I also own the Im-Ashling Creamery ltd. I pay myself for the milk at a point that reduces my tax bill. Then I sell myself feed at above market, reducing things even more. Since I’m awash with cash in the Im-Ash Creamery ltd, I go shopping in the USA for any and all companies leveraging the income from the Irish operations. Very soon I’ll own most of the top food companies in the world.
    When others see just how things are run here as in the troika, they just cannot believe it.

  23. @ VH: You are getting close to the idea about farming. But there are two categories: family and industrial. The second is the problem. It captures the clowns and looters in our legislatures- who are very willing to be captured (lots of Moolah for the ’cause’, and all).

    Industrial agri, and commodities produced off arable land on an industrial scale is a completely unsustainable enterprise. The input costs far exceed the output benefits – so the taxpayer is bent over the proverbial barrel and looted. A non-beneficial externality of this fiscal cheating is that ‘urban’ food consumers get undercosted food – they think. Whereas they are shafted by numerous ‘hidden’ taxes and charges, which are re-directed back to the industrial agri sector in the form of tax breaks, write-offs and lower fuel costs- but not back to the family farm sector. OK, the latter do get subbies, and they should not, but the reasons for the subbies are completely different. Familiy farms produce families and food.

    The economically and intellectually challenged believe – with an obscene level of arrogance that industrial-style farming is sustainable. That producing food and agri commodities on a large scale is economical, rather than comical. Sure, its economical from an accounting perspective, but not not from a biological one. Its environmental, economical and social terrorism. But where are the econ professoriate on this? Kinda silent. Maybe they are clueless about the situation. Would not be the first time.

    Your comments re industrial agri are indeed valid, but there is so much at stake, both financially and politically, that the situation is (for the moment) intractable. However, just wait about a decade. Then liquid hydrocarbon fuel input costs will squeeze everyone – most especially the industrial agri sector. They will scream like stuck pigs, but the looters and clowns in Leinster House will have no ‘free’ Moolah to dish out.

    Should be fun.

  24. @ Ossian. Thank you.

    I am very reluctant to recommend reading. It is a dodgy form of maternalism – anxious mothers can be very pushy of their chickens! “Improve your mind” – and all such guff! 😎

  25. Today’s published EPA emissions projections show agriculture accounting for 48% of Irish ghg emissions by 2020.

    In discussing Irish farm income, what was the recent contribution from road CPO compensation and development land selling? If these were significant, they will be hard to replace.

Comments are closed.