When the going gets tough, the tough get going

COMMENT: Despite all the talk of global warming, Ireland, over recent years, has endured a number of the coldest and longest winters in living memory. And, a quick scan of the media recently would indicate that the coming months will bring with them a really icy chill.

Many may well look back on those mind numbingly cold days of December 2010, for example, and think that we have experienced enough Siberian-like conditions for one life time.

Naturally, nobody will disagree with such sentiments. . But I also hold strongly to the view that the winter months always bring out the very best in farmers. For example, during a really cold snap the media is always filled with truly uplifting stories of farmers assisting neighbours and their local communities throughout these testing periods. The reality is that four-by-four jeeps and four-wheeled drive tractors can get in and out areas that would prove impassable for all other vehicles.

When older people living in remote parts of the country need assistance during periods of heavy snow, who is the first person to come knocking on their door? Yes you guessed it. And who, invariably, is on hand to give motorists and lorry drivers a dig out when their vehicles have ground to a halt, again courtesy of the snow. Enter stage right the many farmers who are on hand to ensure that these travellers got to their destinations rather than having to endure a very cold night on the road side.

And, of course, while all this is going on farmers still have the additional hassle of trying to get water and fodder to stock, both on their home farms and in outlying areas.

Agriculture comes in for some pretty negative publicity in the general media from time to time. The public is prone to querying the cost of the Common Agricultural Policy and the amount of ‘support’ received by farmers.

Conveniently, these same people never seem to wonder about the security of the food supply, which is guaranteed by the farming industry. Nor do they ever admit to the tremendous public good delivered by farmers courtesy of the beautiful countryside which everyone can enjoy.

If the recent cold snaps taught us anything, it is that in times of emergency everyone has to put their shoulder to the wheel. And farmers across Ireland should take quiet satisfaction from the fact that when the going gets tough – they get going. That’s the way it always has been and always will be.

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