Opinion

Happy Christmas and hope-filled new year from all at AgriLand

What a year 2020 has been. As we fought on a global and local scale to tackle the spread of a deadly virus, the agriculture sector was tested to its limits.

The Covid-19 pandemic changed so much about the way we live and work and highlighted the importance of what had perhaps become a little overlooked.

While so much industry had to grind to a halt, farmers kept working. While working from home became the new norm and zoom became the latest trend, farmers kept working. While marts closed and factories battled virus spreads, farmers kept working.

The survival of the human race depends on the provision of a food supply and while doctors and medical professionals on the frontline worked hard to help patients affected by the coronavirus, farmers worked on keeping the rest of the population alive by keeping the food supply going.

Agriculture continues, farming continues. The yearly calendar of events in farming takes no note of inconveniences such as global pandemics. Cattle will still be milked, lambs will still be born, silage will still have to be cut and so the frontline workers in the fields and farms continue with determination.

New EU plans

It wasn’t just Covid-19 which was at the forefront of farmers’ minds in 2020. AgriLand brought you news of divisions within the Beef Plan Movement earlier this year. We saw the release of the EU’s Green Deal encompassing the Farm to Fork and Biodiversity Strategies.

Farmers had to adapt to buying and selling stock online when marts were closed (due to Covid-19 restrictions) and missed the weekly interaction with their peers which was as much a form of socialisation as it was a form of business.

We have reported on the progress of the Beef Market Taskforce as we try to secure premium branding status for Irish Grass Fed Beef through a PGI application to Europe and the development of a suckler brand.

AgriLand has stayed on top of all the agricultural stories that matter to you throughout 2020, such as the issuing and subsequent burning (by the IFA) of the letters from the Department of Agriculture regarding tuberculosis (TB) testing.

Carousel of ministers

Let’s not forget one of the most important stories of the year… the fact that 2020 has seen five ministers holding the agriculture portfolio.

We started the year with Michael Creed (FG) and then following the General Election, Barry Cowen (FF) was given the ministry. However, controversy over alleged road traffic offences resulted in him losing that portfolio again after 17 days. He was replaced by Dara Calleary (FF). However following his attendance at the infamous ‘Golfgate’ event in Clifden, Co. Galway, in August, Calleary resigned and the agriculture ship was without a captain once again.

Rather than rush into a decision for a hasty replacement, Taoiseach Micheál Martin took up the responsibility after Calleary’s resignation, bringing the agriculture minister tally to four up to that point in 2020.

It seems the powers-that-be felt they found someone to steady the ship in the form of Donegal’s Charlie McConalogue (FF), who has at least lasted longer in the role than Cowen or Calleary.

AgriLand monitors Brexit

We have kept our readers up to date with all things Brexit-related as they happen, when as late as yesterday (Thursday December 24) a trade deal was finally hammered out between the EU and the UK. What, specifically, this trade deal will mean for agri-business in Ireland remains to be seen.

With the details of a new Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) yet to be finalised, it will be a challenging and dynamic year for agriculture in Ireland in 2021.

AgriLand will continue to bring you all the most relevant and up-to-date information that you need as it happens, asking the questions that need to be asked and providing our loyal readers with the answers they should know.

I, and the team at AgriLand, want to thank you sincerely for your support and engagement with us over the past year. We work hard to ensure that access to information and news is always available at your fingertips. We encourage you to engage further with us in 2021 and watch this space for exciting new developments we have in store. It’s you, the reader, who have made us the fastest growing agricultural news platform in the country.

Wishing you and yours a very happy, healthy and peaceful Christmas and New Year.

Stella Meehan

Editor