FW Opinion: Deal done, and not a kidnap in sight

When a decision marks the end of a disagreement, the consequences rippling outwards are eagerly watched by all involved for markers of success or failure.

Those who lost the debate are subsequently inclined to look for data that supports their argument that something else should have been done, while the winners do the opposite.

Many of you will now be waiting impatiently to see the results of a new ram or bull as lambing and calving season approaches (or has even started).

See also: FW Opinion: Let’s keep Christmas greetings going all year

If a single calf is stuck at the hips or even one lamb does not suckle unassisted, those who counselled against a radical change in bloodline or breed may be unkind enough to lay the blame on that one decision alone.

About the author

Andrew Meredith
Editor, Farmers Weekly

E: andrew.meredith@markallengroup.com
T: @Merry_Meredith

Read more articles by Andrew Meredith

Were it not for the coronavirus pandemic, I suspect we would have already heard even more from pundits about the effects of the shiny new trade deal agreed at the final minute between the UK and EU.

Every future piece of economic data for years will be pored over by proponents and opponents of Brexit for fresh ammunition – and some of it will be fired across these pages and online.

Outlandish predictions have already been made by both sides about what it will mean for the financial success or otherwise of UK plc in future.

Like it or not, this is the world we now live in.

Most farmers, I am sure, uttered a sigh of relief that any agreement had been reached and the barriers to trade will not be catastrophically higher for most.

It is to be hoped resolutions can swiftly be found to the issues that have already been raised, such as for seed potato growers and sheep buyers from Northern Ireland.

Of course, fresh disagreements  break out all the time – a new front has also opened up this week in the war over what the future should be for Red Tractor.

I urge you all to make your voices heard in the consultation, and we will look to hear more from both sides in the coming weeks.

During the Christmas break, I dug out my copy of notorious dryland farmer Guy Smith’s History of the NFU to remind myself of how farming had coped with entry into the European Economic Community.

Despite all the tumultuous events of the past four years, the industry has so far reacted much more calmly to the exit from the EU than on its journey towards entry.

The deal to join was struck in 1972, but farming was granted a five-year transition period (sound familiar?) to migrate from the old subsidy system to the Common Agricultural Policy.

It caused serious financial difficulties for the livestock sector by 1974, leading to more than 200 protests in towns and cities across Britain involving 50,000 farmers.

An audacious plot was even hatched by three West Country farmers, who acquired a plane with the intention of kidnapping prime minister Harold Wilson from his summer retreat in the Scilly Isles.

Fortunately, Mr Wilson was left undisturbed to smoke his famous pipe, as the farmers were unable to land on the isles due to fog and had to beat a retreat.

There is a lot of road left in farming’s transition period to new support schemes.

The final product needs to be of good enough quality to be marked by another agreement – however fragile – between the politicians imposing it and the farmers who will have to implement it.

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