By Peter Carr
Two years ago this week I was in Ireland – representing the NZ National Fieldays Society at the annual Irish Plough agricultural event.
This is a gathering of all things agricultural (and a few other sideshows too) where in excess of 400,000 fervent Irish people visit each year. To place it in perspective the throughput numerically is three times that of the annual gathering at Mystery Creek.
And this annual agri-fest is under the ownership and operation of a lovely lady in her mid-80’s.
I was reminded of this pleasant escapade at the weekend when my electronic tablet threw up a photographic reminder of pictures I had taken that day in September – of any year.
Coincidental with the excellent show a group of us toured the eastern side of the Emerald Isle to gain an understanding of how Irish farmers are tilling the soil and turning beautiful verdant pastures into both food (for humans) and food (for cattle).
Hot off the press at this time was the apparition of Brexit where Irish farmers – who use the UK to transit large trucks to the European continent – were faced with paying a tariff for passing through an EU-free UK. The newspapers were full of fears, woe, gnashing of teeth and general upsetedness.
I am further reminded this week – with Brexit now a done deal – that I have not heard much more about these frustrations. Their main beef was about beef and, to some extent, butter and cheese. Irish farmers were concerned that the net income from their labours would be diminished. It appears the UK is intending to be lenient with the Irish agricultural producers.
So why this diatribe about tariffs? Well, it has been interesting to note the tripartite agreement between three major nations on matters pertaining to nuclear submarines. Putting aside the virtues of being nuclear free it is also interesting to note that, coincidental with this tilt at the Chinese, the great oriental nation applied to become involved with the CTTP – the comprehensive 12 nation Pacific rim alliance for more progressive and, hopefully, one day tariff-free trade between nations.
Now sitting at the bottom south-western edge of the Pacific with trade with China uppermost on our minds the government is walking a narrow and tight rope. Not wishing to fall into the abyss with which Australia finds itself in Sino relations – and conscious that China can turn taps off at a whim – it will be interesting to observe how our Foreign Affairs Minister conducts the next leg of the trade pathway
To end on a cheerful note, one of the Irish farmers we visited invited the 20 of us to morning tea. We could not help noticing a group photograph on the kitchen table. It was the Maramarua First XV. And in the middle row was a younger version of our host. Farming aside his agricultural studies had taken him to the Waikato for an extended stay and he is extremely proud to be an honorary Kiwi.