THE FARM­ING SEC­TOR HAS AN ACE THAT IT DOESN’T EVEN NEED TO KEEP UP ITS SLEEVE BUT IT NEEDS TO PLAY IT WELL

Irish Independent - Farming - - RURAL LIFE -

The change in peo­ple’s eat­ing habits is hap­pen­ing be­fore our eyes. The Waitrose re­port finds that, of the peo­ple it sur­veyed, 60pc of ve­gans and around 40pc of veg­e­tar­i­ans made the change in the last five years.

Of these, 55pc at­trib­uted their di­etary choice to an­i­mal wel­fare con­cerns, 45pc did so be­cause of health con­cerns and 38pc did so be­cause of cli­mate change or other en­vi­ron­men­tal is­sues. As the en­vi­ron­men­tal de­bate heats up, we can ex­pect this lat­ter co­hort to in­crease.

What is to be done? To be face­tious about it, one could say the one sure-fire way to re­verse cli­mate change would be for all hu­man ac­tiv­ity to stop, from love-mak­ing to oil con­sump­tion — from burn­ing love to burn­ing oil.

But life must go on and the world needs food more than it needs oil or coal or cars or planes. So the farm­ing sec­tor has an ace that it doesn’t even need to keep up its sleeve. How­ever, it needs to play it well.

Rather than ful­mi­nate and blus­ter, it needs to be­gin to adapt and put it­self on the front foot in re­la­tion to re­spond­ing to the changes that are in­evitable.

Make no mis­take, when the real pres­sure comes on in re­la­tion to cli­mate change, farm­ing will be treated as the soft un­der­belly and the easy tar­get. It doesn’t have the col­lec­tive clout of the tra­di­tional en­ergy in­dus­tries, the au­to­mo­tive in­dus­try or the air in­dus­try.

How­ever, there will be a cry­ing need for land for al­ter­na­tive en­ergy sources, and farm­ers can pro­vide that.

Above all, peo­ple will al­ways need to eat. The only ones that can feed them are farm­ers and wouldn’t they be very fool­ish not to be ready and will­ing to give peo­ple what they want?

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