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Farming columnist, Joe Melody gives a taste of his Christmas wishes in the world of agriculture.

We have just made arrangements to bring in the dry cows from the grass they have been grazing on the out block. My father J.J. and myself walked through the cows in that place this Wednesday morning and one would perhaps think bad of having to bring the girls back into the shed. The ground conditions are firm underfoot which isn’t always the case for us this late in the year, there is a sweet, musky, hay like aroma from the grazed but somewhat trodden upon pasture.

Each cow is busy about pursuing that last morsel of the most generous of grazing seasons 2021. Nonetheless Christmas is but a few days a way and we suspect less clement weather is just around the corner. The cow now needs to be nurtured closer to home as she faces her last few weeks of pregnancy where her diet and consumption of minerals becomes even more important.

Christmas is a magical time for children as they await the arrival of Santa Claus but as a farmer what wishes would I have on my Christmas list for 2022. Number one is world peace which is probably over ambitious but at least not any new conflicts. Obviously the world needs no extra suffering or displacement of people from their homes, however with modern conflicts comes often comes geo-political manoeuvring in the form of sanctions being imposed on the aggressor and then being reciprocated back by the aggressor.

We saw this in 2014 when the EU imposed sanctions on Russia for its invasion and annexation of Crimea. Russia reacted by banning imports of food from EU member states. Russia is currently amassing some one hundred thousand troops on the Ukrainian border in what is believed to be a prelude to an invasion of the Ukraine. We have been unable to export food produce to Russia since 2014 so these sanctions have shrunk our world somewhat.

Number two on my list would be that farming is let flourish without the negative, careless talk of ill-informed commentators. I was listening to a panel discussion on one of the national radio stations last week, all speakers were urbanites, none from a food producing background and they were allowed by the presenter to spout off lies and careless misinformation. One of the panellists mentioned that in terms of the environment, “we know Irish farming has to move away from cow farming to growing crops”. No one pressed her or asked her, why or how do we know that, where is the evidence.

This woman’s vocabulary related to livestock farming didn’t seem to go beyond calling cattle cows no more than if I were to call all people women. She then went on to say our national herd has been getting larger every year and should be reduced. This is the most blatant lie that is being pedalled on national airwaves. The fact is that in 1974 there were 7.4 million cattle in Ireland, today there is just 6.9 million cattle, a reduction of some half a million cattle.

I would like to take the opportunity to wish you a very happy and healthy Christmas and New Year.

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