herald

Friday 19 January 2018

Farmers, you seem to be loaded now so how about a few hand-outs?

AS I passed down a country road last weekend, I expected to see fields full of rusty old combine harvesters, reapers and binders. Or at least something along the lines of heavy, rickety machinery -- I'm a city girl, so not great on agricultural equipment.

Instead, what loomed into view were hi-tech, modern vehicles that I would have thought more appropriate in Nasa, launching the space shuttle into orbit.

It was obvious that our farmers don't seem to be witnessing the same sort of belt tightening that we city slickers have had to endure.

Not a bit. For them, business is booming. And to prove it, these days you're more likely to see a farmer's wife behind the wheel of a Land Rover, than a D4 yummy mummy. And when she arrives home, she'll slip into her Jimmy Choo wellies, Barbour jacket (sold out in Brown Thomas multiple times this season) and call her husband in for a Clodagh McKenna-inspired feast from the farmers' market.

Things have, apparently, been good for the farmers. It would be unimaginable now for them to hark back to the days of driving their tractors into Dublin in protest. Nope, these days, they're far too busy counting the rolls of cash they're making from the fruits of their labour.

In 2011, the farmer's daughter has replaced the developer's as the ultimate good catch.



compassion

Who wants a dowry of empty housing developments and a fleet of soon-to-be repossessed cars when a girl can come with a herd of high-yield cattle and enough fields to feed an appreciative export market?

Even the weather has been kind to the farmers. Ask any Wexford fruit farmer how his strawberry crop has been, and he'll (no doubt reluctantly) tell you about his bumper harvest.

So, oh farmers of Ireland, what about sharing some of this love? How about giving us a few crusts from your artisan loaves? Hand out some freebies with the astronomically-priced produce you flog at those busy outdoor markets?

Perhaps you could pass on your old generators when our electricity gets cut off?

You don't need them any more, not with all those equipment grants you keep benefiting from.

I'm not bitter, or jealous, I swear. But you farmers must remember what it was like in those hard times? When spare cash couldn't be found stuffing a mattress and long hours of work didn't necessarily result in pay.

Well, the rest of us are going through that now, and a bit of compassion wouldn't go astray.

As you and your shiny new horse box fly past my five-year-old car, would you not give us a free fill of diesel? I'll even pretend I enjoy watching Charity ICA Bootcamp.

It seems the land has been good over the last few years. I'm sure there's many a farmer's boy who regrets moving to the 'big smoke' since being made redundant. Is it too late to go home, to try to reclaim some of the inheritance?

As things get tougher, the agri-crowd have become the new A-list. And so if the farmer wants a wife, and has money in the tea caddy to 'invest' in jewellery, a smart home and designer clobber, I'm still just about available.

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