Opinion

Government-backed straw costs a pretty penny

About my weekly travels, I passed by a pet shop in the sunny south-east. It’s been years since I darkened the doors of such an establishment, but I vowed to go in for a quick look around.

What began as a modest quest to find a nutritional solution for a pampered, pregnant pooch turned into an eye-opening experience.

After passing fields of freshly-cut Carlow barley, rows of straw and the smell of harvest 2018 still in my nostrils, I said I’d give a quick glance at the bedding options available for our companion animals.

The way things are looking for the cattle at home, rushes might make a valiant return as a bedding option during the winter of 2018/2019.

What I found didn’t shock me, it left me enamored at the ingenious marketing employed when it comes to selling straw. For what I’d describe as a small pack – but what the marketers described as a “large” pack – came to the costly sum of €4.99.

On the back of the pristine packaging – a far cry from the wraps used to cover bales at home two years ago – was a blaze of government branding and sponsorship.

Along with support from the National Development Plan, the venture was also supported by the LEADER Programme and the Department of Community, Equality and Gaeltacht Affairs.

As I sat back into the car with a nutritional solution for the pooch, I thought there must be other ways that farmers can use such ingenious marketing ploys.

What about small bags of cow dung for the avid gardeners out there or ‘decorative, prehistoric ornaments’ – stones in other words – sourced from the field that was ploughed for reseeding before the rain decided to abandon us?

If you’ve any ideas, answers on a postcard.