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A New Form of Servitude

Jan 21, 2016 | ICSA in the Media | 0 comments

FARMERS JOURNAL – January 21, 2016

Edmond Phelan, ICSA National Beef Chairman

“What do they have to say about ABP taking over Slaney?” – Edmond Phelan, National Beef Chairman, ICSA.

DEAR SIR: Over the centuries we have always had one class of people lording it over everyone else. In the worst instances, the lowest were treated as slaves. Thankfully in most parts of the world this practice has died out. Nowadays a new form of servitude has crept in; there are no other words for it when you work all day for little or no reward. In fact, in a lot of instances it is actually costing you to work.

We really are the victims of a huge confidence trick. The Government and Teagasc tell us to get more efficient, to produce more. This flies in the face of all economic logic. An economist will tell you that the best cure for low prices is “low prices”.

As soon as people think that they can beat the system and overproduce, the cycle will start over again. For some reason, the powers that be think agriculture is somehow different. In actual fact it is, but in a negative way – you cannot just flip a switch and cut production; you have to maintain the animals you have at great expense.

In this, the centenary year of the 1916 rising, when our forefathers rose up against a foreign oppressor, we have new oppressors and I’m sad to say some of them are home grown. Have we the courage of our forefathers to rise up and say enough is enough and to reclaim our honour and the right to make a living for ourselves and our children?

An interesting fact emerged at the last Beef Forum – the Minister is trying to bring in producer groups, of which I’m somewhat sceptical. The interesting thing is that no one group can control more than 15% of production according to EU regulation. It’s a pity the EU doesn’t apply the same constraint to processors and retailers. After all, if they’re afraid that more than 15% control among farmers could lead to a distortion of trade, what do they have to say about ABP taking over Slaney?

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