Opinion: Will new MPs remember the plight of farmers?

When you woke up this morning (Friday, 13 December) and switched on the news were you delirious or disappointed? Or were you, like many, I suspect, apathetic?

Three-and-a-half years of repetitive bickering has induced intense boredom in politics, which is a real pity because, whichever way yesterday’s general election went (and this is being written a few days before), Britain faces one of the most important periods in its history.

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If the opinion polls were right and Boris Johnson remains prime minister with a workable majority, he will doubtless press on to “get Brexit done”.

That does not mean we will leave the European Union next week or next month, or maybe even next year. For negotiations on the details will just be beginning and could continue for years. Those who have been bored so far ain’t seen nothing yet.

If, on the other hand, we find ourselves with a hung parliament, we can expect the debates and votes in the House of Commons to go on and on until, presumably, fatigue sets in and either the remainers or the leavers concede defeat.

Meanwhile, the rest of the business of government will be neglected and little of substance will be done.

Farming will be well down the list of parliamentary priorities

What a mess. And I doubt the election will have solved much. Farming will be well down the list of parliamentary priorities. Having secured our votes, politicians have a habit of ignoring us.

Consumers, on the other hand, will respond to such things as the latest TV “expose”, in this case Meat: A threat to our Planet? Liz Bonnin is a presenter I admire and given the places she was taken to and the scenes she witnessed, I would have come to similar conclusions to her.

The fault lay with the producers of the programme, who decided to feature extreme cases of intensive production that were unrepresentative of what happens here.

Sadly, however, those images will have had an effect on the consciences of gullible consumers – and the number of vegans will increase.

We must hope, however, that the furore since transmission will have warned the new government off doing deals for cheap meat.

Candidates must have seen the devastation caused by excessive rain as they toured UK constituencies during the election campaign.

Now they are MPs or ministers, will they remember, or did they even register what floods might mean for UK farming and food supplies?

For it is already clear that arable production will be seriously affected next year, with drastic effects on yields, farm incomes and domestic self-sufficiency.

Further, restrictions on immigrant labour could decimate huge chunks of horticulture, and home production could be well down. The combination of politics and climate could leave Britain short of home-produced food.

On this Norfolk farm, in one of the driest areas of the country, we finally got 90% of our winter wheat drilled by late November, although some is yet to emerge. But we had to leave some flooded places.

Whether we shall be able to patch those areas in the spring remains to be seen. But we’re not proud of what we have achieved. I have never seen so many acres drilled into such wet land.

My father used to say: “In with the slop; heavy a-top.” Let’s hope he was right.

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