Farming

Poor rural internet adding to Covid-19 challenges

May 24th, 2020 9:45 PM

By Emma Connolly

Tommy Moyles: lift in the beef sector.

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THE farming community is well used to having the goalposts moved regularly and have shown how resilient they are through the Covid-19 lockdown.

That’s according to Upton dairy farmer Vanessa Kiely-O’Connor, who said the pandemic has shown how the entire sector rallied together, and was able to adapt.

However, speaking on this week’s Southern Star Coronavirus podcast, the award-winning farmer said that concerns inside the farm gate will always be around milk price

‘The reality is that we export 90% of dairy, we were always going to have issue around Brexit, and now Covid-19 is an added issue. But if you look at what’s happening in England, where they’ve had to  spill milk, because people couldn’t process it, we should be very proud of stakeholders who came on board here, and  that that  didn’t happen,’ she said.

Ardfield beef farmer Tommy Moyles, also speaking on the podcast, said there has been a lift in the beef sector with some country’s coming out of lockdown and cow prices rising slowly.

However, with regard to prime cuts of meat, he said the concern was that restaurants would not be operating at the level they were before. ‘You really just have to plan for the worst in farming and have to be that  bit cautious,’ he said.

Both farmers were unanimous in their praise for local suppliers, co-ops, Teagasc and Carbery in maintaining full services during what have been challenging times. ‘I’m very proud to be farming and very proud of everyone who delivered a service to us,’ said Vanessa.

However, contributing to difficulties, they agreed, was poor internet connectivity in their rural areas.

Vanessa said the situation was a ‘nightmare,’ both for her and all of rural Ireland.

‘My business depends on me having an internet connection … some days I have to drive a mile up the road to get coverage and that’s a challenge. With the Dept of Agriculture requiring us to do so much online now it can be quite stressful,’ she said.

With two secondary school-going children, she said that rural students were being put at a disadvantage by poor broadband.

Tommy agreed and said the situation was ‘extremely frustrating’ and something that would have to be picked up as a priority by public representatives.

‘The legacy of this that we’re going to see huge changes in terms of people working from home.’

• To hear the full podcast, go to southernstar.ie/news/podcast-how-covid-19-affects-farming-music-from-a-group-of-beara-musicians-4205263

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