Irish Economy and its Agricultural Sector - Patrick DeJong

July 04, 2014Eimear Clowry

Initially, I was in awe of the amount of gorgeous farmland that has an immense potential to feed extensive farms of livestock, yet it was split into tiny squares with either trees or stonewalls surrounding them. In researching the reason why the fields remain divided, I was stunned to find that the Irish were not relatively interested in consolidating their pastures, as they do not want to industrialize the countryside or take land away from families who have farmed the hectares for years. While it would be difficult to persuade the proud Irish, the agricultural industry in Ireland seems to be overshadowed and almost forgotten in the wake of the new technologies arisen from the IT and pharmaceutical sectors. Without the acceptance of large-scale farming, agriculture in Ireland will remain a negligible fraction of the Irish economy and may never reach its maximum ability.

As a son of a dairy farmer, I could immediately visualize the opportunities that Irish landowners have if their land was used to its prospective ability. Ireland has the resources to build dairy farms with thousands of cows, but the real struggle is convincing residents to go for such a massive change in their way of life. For me it was very surprising for me to see farms with maybe fifty cows grazing and how the owners have to herd them in to milk them each day. On our farms, the cows spend most of their time in large freestall barns with fans and water misters to keep them cool and out of the Texas heat. In Texas, the weather fluctuates significantly, as in the peak of summer it reaches 110 degrees Fahrenheit and in the summit of winter it can plummet to near zero temperatures. Ireland on the other hand has immaculate temperatures for dairy cows, as they prefer lower temperatures, which can be seen in their milk production. The combination of the Irish climate and vast amounts of impeccable farmland, the countries’ aptitude for dairy and the agriculture industry in general is through the roof.

In our studies, we have found that Ireland always seems to replicate the American economy, particularly with the aspirations to become equivalent in the emergent IT sector. Despite their imitation, the Irish did not follow suit in the agriculture sector, as in America the industry has transformed primarily to only large-scale farming operations. In America, agricultural occupations only comprise two percent of all employment, but make enough food to feed the country and export large portions of products as well. While Ireland has nowhere near the landmass, their agricultural efficiency could be increased greatly and cause the Emerald Isle to become major players in global agriculture. The European Union’s quota system on milk has suppressed Europe’s ability to grow in the dairy sector, but with its upcoming expiration European farms will be able to expand and produce to their maximum capability. Many American dairy farmers are nervous of this change, as more European product will be able to exported to countries that were previously fed by American farms. The termination of the quota system will be sure to send ripples throughout the globe and could leave an opening for the growth of agriculture in Ireland.
Agriculture in Ireland has vast potential, but remains one of the most untapped industries in the Irish economy. Since the beginning of the Celtic Tiger, Irishmen have searched for businesses that will bring value to the country and expand its market, but farming has yet to reach its full capacity. Agriculture has always been a building block for developing countries and is consistently relied on for subsistence of the mounting human population. While in most developed countries agriculture has narrowed down to large-scale farms only, Ireland has found away to avoid the norm and maintain minimal sized operations. Even though the country is not very large, the weather conditions and the amount of arable farmland available could allow it to be a hotbed for agribusiness.