Welcome to European Tribune. It's gone a bit quiet around here these days, but it's still going.
May I assume that 'intensification of farming' is the equivalent of CAFO (confined animal feeding operations) in the U.S.? That would explain the imported feedstocks - which is truly a terrible method of agriculture from an environmental standpoint. It's also terrible from the standpoint of domestic agriculture, because it's the opening wedge for 1) development of corporate control of your local agriculture by 'bottom-lining' the lower costs associated with their control of cheap-labor farming land in their client states (e.g., Brazil); and 2) the introduction of their chemical cocktails into your food chain. The lower costs, of course, become higher costs to the consumer when the local competition is essentially reduced to those farmers who don't mind gouging their neighbors in step with the corporations. The chemicals need no further explanation; the data is known.

The only benefit of CAFO that I can accept is that collection of the manure makes anaerobic digestion for production of a useful methane energy source relatively efficient. The rejoinder to that is that, given some central planning with respect to market and dietary needs of a population, sufficient grazing land can be allocated and sustained by systems of rotational grazing. Then the manure becomes a managed component of an essentially natural cycle.

paul spencer

by paul spencer (spencerinthegorge AT yahoo DOT com) on Tue Mar 23rd, 2021 at 04:03:22 AM EST
I used the term "intensification" somewhat loosely to mean increasing the herd size above the carrying capacity of the land, resulting in regular winter feed shortages and the importation of large quantities of animal feedstuffs. This is over and above the use of fertilisers to increase the feed production per hectare.

In Ireland  CAFO, as you describe it, is largely confined to pigs and poultry, and cattle during the winter when the land is too wet to graze and when there is too little growth in the first place. The manure collected is generally spread on the land as fertiliser which can result in watercourse pollution, but is generally being done in a more efficient manner with improved technology.

There is considerable interest in anaerobic digestion but I haven't been able to find figures on how widespread its use is. Another idea I find fascinating is feeding seaweed to cows which can apparently reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 82%. (It is a regular part of my sushi diet!).

No less than other industries, the economics of scale are driving agricultural change. The use of robots in milking has huge advantages but requires a herd of at least 70 cows, a large initial capital outlay, and a larger than average landholding. The Common Agricultural Policy is increasingly geared to environmental standards, but again requires a professionalisation of the industry beyond the capacity of some small or part time farmers.

The importance of traceability and quality controls at all links in the food chain is increasingly recognised by regulators and consumers, with organic produce commanding a premium price. This is another reason why I am anxious that Irish food does not compromise its quality image through imported feed stuffs and environmentally destructive practices.

Index of Frank's Diaries

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Tue Mar 23rd, 2021 at 11:53:38 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Hmm, now I must no longer buy the premium Irish butter (with the green cloverleaf on it, 2x the price) when it is on sale. I should switch to  premium Italian buffalo butter. 4x the price but worth it. The discount homegrown stuff will also do.

Schengen is toast!
by epochepoque on Wed Mar 24th, 2021 at 03:12:31 PM EST
[ Parent ]


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