Letter to the editor: The more farming moves away, more ‘unforeseen problems are unearthed’

With coronavirus [Covid-19] having become a global pandemic, surely this is a time to take a hold of the reins of farming – specifically with regard to big and intensive practices.

Rob Wallace’s book ‘Big Farms Make Big Flu’ leaves little doubt over an apparent link between ‘big’ agriculture and zoonotic diseases [diseases that can be transmitted from animals to man].

Intrusive [and intensive] practices have decimated a large number of smaller farmers and – crucially – local indigenous farming methods. Also, because processing activities are becoming increasingly dominated by fewer, larger companies, the potential to quickly contaminate large populations increases.

Irish farmers need to break away from all-out production – for production’s sake. Instead, they need to embrace nature-friendly practices – with the main emphasis on the need to put their own food on the table.

‘Food and farming was miles better…’

Food and farming was miles better previously than today – in terms of nutrition. It’s a problem if agriculture is taking from nature; we should be farming in tandem with nature.

The more we move agriculture away from nature, the more unforeseen problems will be unearthed.

What’s more, the notion of an Irish farm population that can’t produce many types of food, but can produce a small number of types in great abundance, is a stark contradiction – when you consider the traditional and holistic sense of what agriculture should be about.

The purpose of farming was, and should be, food – not the production of commodities for production’s sake.

From Michael O’Connor, Co. Roscommon