March 9, 2009

Properly Harness Agriculture

Posted in Your Ideas · 1 comment ·

It is the oldest industry known to man. It has been the starting point for nearly all industries that have evolved since then. In a world where food stocks are at an all time low and arable land is becoming a premium, Ireland is well placed in terms of climate, population density and its geographic positioning to become the world leaders in hi-tech agriculture and food production.

This is not just about putting a few more new John Deeres on the paddock. This is about a whole range of measures ranging from energy production, GM food production (we may as well be leaders), supply chain management, down to health sector applications both for animals and humans.

Agri-Technology is both a labour and knowledge intensive industry with the widest range of applications and a demand for the widest range of skills. Whether it\’s construction or IT, mechanical engineering or software engineering, skilled trades (all of them) to retail, law or economics.

We need to repaint agriculture for what it is becoming and not be bogged down in the old attitudes of cows and fields in never ending drizzle.

  1. Deco

    Yes. Good idea. The problem is that agriculture is that a sizeable majority of Irish people regard agriculture as a dirty, smelly, rural-peasant type activity. The evidence is in the fact that the majority of people who go to work in agriculture are from Eastern Europe.

    What I saying is that Irish people have a mental block. A lot of Irish people resent having to do work that smells of cow-manure. This is a massive social factor. Now, writing about it on a matter of fact website like DMcW dot come, in the midst of a recession, this concept of social pressure sounds utterly absurd. And that is because it is utterly absurd.

    The basis of agricultural production is manure. Yes, I know it sounds hilarious, but it is a biological fact. Yet, Ireland has some of the most ridiculous regulations in regard to manure. Many farmers actually cannot spread manure on all of their land. It is reducing the agricultural output and thereby reducing employment in food processing plants.

    Bear in mind that agriculture is heavily regulated. In fact in Ireland animal health is more heavily regulated than human health. Violations of animal health guidelines result in massive fines. Violations in public policy that result in damage to human health, and even death to humans get covered up and papered over. As evidence, just look at the HSE. Basically the meat cattle marts are run more strictly in Ireland than the hospitals. Or the water treatment plants – as anybody from Galway city or Ennis will testify.

    The people who regulate agriculture are often from a seperate social class to those who operate in agriculture. In fact the people who regulate agriculture often look down on (dirty, smelly) farmers, and carry a lot of condesencsion towards those who work in agriculture both Irish and Eastern European.

    For comparison, let’s compare regulation of the financial sector. It would appear that the people in charge of regulation of the Financial services sector are often from the same social background as those who operate in the sector. And this is mirrored at the various levels in both the Banking and Financial Regulatory sector. So the regulation is a bit more ‘cordial’. (Or maybe the word corrupt would be more accurate). The differing regulatory environments are both ends of an extreme. One sector is prohibited to the point that gross output and exports suffer. The other is allowed behave recklessly to the point that we end up with the Lenihan’s bank bailout.

    Apart from all of that – what about fish farming ? Aquaculture ???
    I mean we are next to an ocean after all. Maybe that deserves an idea all of it’s own !!!!

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