12
Oct
09

The poor farmer

I spent the day with protesting farmers. It’s a habit of mine. Whenever I hear of a protest happening someplace I always go down for the craic. You might think this the attitude of a bandwagon revolutionist, and you might be right. In this case, however, the label doesn’t hold, as I find it very hard to muster much sympathy for the farmers’ plight.

Ok, the whole 20 cent per litre of milk, or whatever it is that Glanbia gives them, is hardly fair. But it’s difficult to believe they’re so hard up when they’re parading brand new tractors through half the country. As one guy said to me today, “if they sold all the tractors they could clear the national debt.”

And the IFA are seemingly aware of this contradiction. One of today’s protesters is a friend of my brother. He told me the farmers were instructed to take their oldest, dodgiest tractors to the protest, only some didn’t pick up the message. Incidentally, my brother’s friend is not a farmer. He just works for one occasionally. He was working today. He was actually being paid an hourly rate to attend the protest (and I very much doubt that was declared and taxed accordingly). I ask you, how badly can they really be doing if they can pay people to protest on their behalf?

I ran into John Deasy during my adventure, and he expressed his absolute support for the farmers. “It was farmers who kept this town alive during the 80s,” he told me. Bullshit, of course. This particular town was kept alive by two pharmaceutical plants and a Waterford Crystal factory, but he did get me wondering about certain politicians who are champion the farmers’ cause. I saw placards today stating: “Rural TDs defend farmers,” which I misread as, “Rural TDs depend on farmers,” which few would doubt is true. I can’t help but suspect this is an issue for political reasons rather than unjust milk prices.

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