The Rare Breeds Survival Trust (RBST) has added the Oxford Sandy and Black pig and the Dairy Shorthorn cow to its "2012 Watchlist" of endangered breeds.
Since the RBST was founded in 1973, no UK native breed has become extinct and we must wish this excellent charity continued success.
But, when it comes to conserving rare breeds, there is no room for complacency. Once a unique gene pool is lost there is no getting it back, so it is my duty to point out to the RBST that there are several more endangered breeds that, inexplicably, do not yet seem to have been included on its 2012 watchlist:
The Farmer Pessimist
This most beloved of traditional British breeds was once found on many UK farms and was easily identified by its trademark tatty waxed jacket and fixed grumpy expression. No matter how high the price of grain, milk, lamb, beef or pork, the Farmer Pessimist could always be found having a good whinge. Humourists came to love this breed and there was even a popular song written about it, pointing out that no-one had ever seen one riding a bicycle. Replaced by the Farmer Optimist, which has become ubiquitous to most UK farms since the SFP was introduced in 2005.
The Gentleman Farmer
Some point out that the words "gentleman" and "farmer" are contradictions in terms, but this breed was once surprisingly common across parts of the UK. Averse to manual work, the Gentleman Farmer could always be spotted by its tell-tale tweed jacket, polished brogues and woollen tie with its faint traces of a good roast beef lunch. Once found at all levels of the NFU hierarchy as it had the time to sit through all those endless committee meetings. Nearly extinct but hanging on in parts of Scotland, where it is now known as The Slipper Farmer. Replaced by: the Agri-business Farmer - a polo-shirted, chino-wearing, app-downloading technocrat, happiest at the helm of a 35-foot header Claas Lexion.
The Mixed Farmer
This once numerous breed could be found in the lambing pen, calving a cow or sat on a tractor drilling spring barley - and all in the time it took to utter its cheery cry of "Jack of all trades and master of none". Replaced by: the Specialist Farmer, which knows how to produce only one commodity but very, very cheaply.
The Farm Worker
Flocks of these used to be found on most farms. Numbers have gradually dwindled to the point where the sighting of one is so rare that they are now considered extinct in many parishes. Replaced by: The Farmer's Son or Daughter, back from Newcastle University with a pass degree in Agriculture that taught it to say "Productivity per man/hour important, yah?" and sack everyone so it can buy a bigger tractor.
The Sales Rep
Once a common sight hurtling down farmhouse drives in its trademark flash car, the Sales Rep is now believed to be almost extinct. There are occasional reports of sightings of one dispensing catalogues or free samples from the large boot of its gas-guzzling, top-of-the-range Vauxhall, but these are unconfirmed. Replaced by: the Agricultural Co-operative/Farmer-Owned Buyer Groups, which have become so common that all farmers now buy and sell everything at exactly the same price.
I hope that the RBST takes note of the above. It would certainly be a shame to see the likes of the Farmer Pessimist or the sales rep go the same way as the Lincolnshire Curly Coated pig - the last one of which was butchered in the early 1970s.
Stephen Carr runs an 800ha (1,950-acre) sheep, arable and beef farm on the South Downs near Eastbourne in partnership with his wife, Fizz. A third of the acreage is in conversion to organic status.
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