"There is such a tendency to exaggeration and inaccuracy in Irish reports that delay in acting is always desirable."
-- Sir Robert Peel, Prime Minister of England, October 13, 1845

Reports continued to come in of potato crop failure, but there were also plenty of successful harvests. One government official described Irish fields as a checker-board, with healthy white potatoes being uprooted in one field, while a neighboring field would have nothing but black-rotted roots. A lot of recent reports supported caution; crops were failing, but not all crops were failing. But now it was time for the main crop to be taken in, and bed news started to pour in... and be doubted.

Early 'solutions' were floated; banning the export of food from Ireland, or banning the use of food crops to make alcohol. It is worth emphasizing here that rule over the farmland in Ireland was by landlords -- usually English landlords, which is to say, absent landlords. This resulted in a wide range of bad solutions to agricultural problems. The farmers worked the land hard, and often subdivided plots to extremes; rent needed to be paid, but could be owed on expectation of future income on crops, and minimal contracts, such as conacre, made it easy to take on debt in expectation. Meanwhile, the landlords' agents, tasked with managing land to turn a profit, could be brutal in evicting families that didn't produce; tenants were responsible for building their own housing on the rented land, and got not credit for land improvements, leading some agents to just pull down the houses of unwanted tenants before setting the law on them. The rent to keep one's land and home intact came not from potatoes, but from crops for export to England. Families would soon be exporting food while watching their children starve, because hunger now was survivable, but supporting a family with no land and no house was not. Banning exports to England would be a massive overturning of social order; perhaps desirable, but not something the government was willing to take on.

However, there was one big solution that might just work, and despite his cynicism, Sir Robert Peel was willing to fight the battle that needed to be fought: the repeal of the corn laws. The corn laws were a form of economic protectionism that had become almost religious dogma to many politicians. The law was simple: if you wanted to export grain from outside of Britain, you would pay a high duty, which worked to keep the local price of gain high and benefit the English farmers (And landowners. Especially landowners). If you wanted cheap food for starving peasants, repealing the corn laws was the best way to make this happen.

This was political suicide, but it was the right thing to do. It was also going to be a ridiculously heated political battle, and was not going to be done anytime soon -- certainly not before people started starving. But politicians politic, so the politicking started with vigor.

Meanwhile, on the 13th, no one wanted to commit to much of anything. By the 15th reports were coming in from multiple Irish counties of massive crop failures, with a new problem: potatoes bought at market looking healthy and well were suddenly rotting after a few days. A healthy harvest was no longer a sign of a safe crop, and sellers were soon to be offloading crops as quickly as possible, at any price they could get. Keep in mind, however, that potatoes were not, generally, a cash crop. This was the food that was supposed to see the farmers and their families through the next 12 months, and now it was rotting in piles.