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Farming columnist Joe Melody this week writes about the appetite to control farmers.

Sometimes it is in the speaking to others about our thoughts or ideas that one garners further clarity on whatever the burning issue is. The weekend just gone was one of those moments, a neighbour of mine and I were discussing the issues with getting labour in tandem with the extra regulations and attacks on agriculture by bureaucracy. He made a point that summarised an underlying reason for much of the stifling of agriculture by regulation and activism. “It is all about control, you need land to build on, create infrastructure, renewable energy. The farmer owns the land so he has the power”.

Ireland does not have huge mineral deposits or onshore oil reserves so intrinsically land is the only real wealth this nation has if you exclude foreign direct investment because that capital is fluid and flows to wherever the most attractive tax policy is or educated work force resides. When we start to frame the conversation about farmers as being a powerful constituency of people who own most the state’s wealth it is easy to see why many on mainly the left of the political spectrum would like to further regulate agriculture and indeed stifle its productivity. Much of this opprobrium levelled at agriculture doesn’t just come from an ill-informed place of concern, it comes from an underlying Marxist view of the world.

In this Marxist view of the world, those that own the means of production in most cases the land are labelled the Bourgeoisie. One only has to look at the horrors of the 20th century in Russia and the communist revolution to see what happened when the farmers were ran off their lands and a communist system was imposed. Of course we say that this could never happen today in a western country. Well maybe not to that extent but most things sit on a spectrum rather than a binary choice of capitalism versus Marxism. The further the hand of government reaches into our affairs as citizens never mind business or farm owners, the further we are ceding control of our land and property rights.

In a country like ours land ownership is an emotive issue and why wouldn’t it be after centuries of being under British rule. I feel though now that a history lesson is needed on why for example Russia with its rich deep black soils is still struggling as an agricultural nation after years of communism. Why also America flourished for centuries under a system of limited government and why the term was “the American dream”.

So next time you hear or read about extra unnecessary controls over the productive sectors, ask the question why. It usually stems from a place of control rather than a place of concern. Productive people do not impose unproductive controls on others. However a small group of people with Marxist tendencies are generating the noise and narrative that these farmers need to be regulated. They will continue to berate any area of society that owns the means of production whether it be land or some SME providing local employment.

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