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RTÉ One, Thursday, 8.30pm
Ear to the Ground

Programme 9

Ear to the Ground Ear to the Ground

Most of us take basic literacy skills for granted - each day we use ATMs, pay bills, fill in forms and read newspapers. However, despite massive public campaigns, adult literacy in Ireland still remains a huge problem for many. In South Carlow alone the County Development Board has 200 farmers on their books receiving special assistance for literacy difficulties. Helen Carroll meets tillage farmer Ned Deering whose life has been deeply affected by dyslexia. Despite being 58-years-old he was only diagnosed with severe dyslexia 6 months ago. Throughout his life he struggled with the problem. At the age of 11 he had surgery for a stress related ulcer and even had teeth pulled out to avoid going to school as he was so far behind. Helen asks what can be done to help the thousands of adults with literacy problems.

"Organic", "Free Range", "Homemade" are all words that consumers are now looking out for on packaging. Despite what some labels may say, there is no such thing as free range pork. Producers can put the words "free range" on pork products yet there are no official standards to define the use of the term. This makes it very difficult for a consumer to determine if what they are getting is in fact free range i.e. from a pig that hasn't been intensively farmed. Ella Mc Sweeney investigates and meets free range pig farmers Martin and Noirin Conroy who are farming 30 acres in Co Cork.

From foot and mouth to mad cow disease, animal disease scares have caused huge disruption to the agricultural sector in recent years. The latest cattle disease infecting herds throughout the country is already costing the cattle industry ¤102 million per year. Bovine Viral Diarrhoea (BVD) is a highly contagious viral disease that can spread from animal to animal as easily as the common cold. In December 2011 Minister for Agriculture Simon Coveney announced details of subsidies that are available to farmers who participate in a voluntary testing scheme. However, many farmers are essentially already playing Russian roulette with their stock by not taking the test until the programme becomes compulsory. Darragh McCullough asks what else can be done to ensure this disease doesn't become a major epidemic. He also meets the Tipperary farmer who lost three valuable animals to the disease but since taking part in a vaccination programme has managed to ensure that his herd remains disease free.

Ear to the Ground is produced by Independent Pictures for RTÉ

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