Well, while he might have expanded our vocabulary to include 'hecatomb' – a great sacrifice of 100 oxen in ancient Greece and Rome if you haven’t had time to Google it yourself – Boris Johnson did little to show he had any understanding of the farming world during his big TV interview in the run up to the party conference last weekend.

Even the sprightly intellect of Andrew Marr struggled to convince the Prime Minister that there was a difference between pigs being slaughtered to feed the nation’s demand for quality home-reared pork and being killed to be disposed of in an incinerator.

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But the TV interview uncovered a deeply engrained lack of sympathy for the industry – a revelation which echoed with alarm bells which had been set ringing just a few days before.

This early warning was sounded at NFU Scotland’s Zoom meeting on the labour crisis across not only each and every sector of agriculture, but also affecting the majority of businesses operating in rural areas, including transport, haulage and tourism.

The message was loud and clear that the food and drink sector needs to get in first before the UK Government attempts to make us the fall-guy for the inevitable Christmas shortages.

At the meeting – which laid the scale of the crisis bare – head of Scotland Food and Drink, and former NFU Scotland chief executive, James Withers, warned that while so-called Covid-19 recovery visas to allow a handful of EU nationals in to help deliver fuel and get turkeys ready for Christmas were all but useless, a massive policy of distraction was likely to be launched by the administration which would try to lay the blame for shortages on producers and processors.

“We saw warning signs of this approach when the head of the Road Haulage Association was blamed for causing panic buying, claiming he leaked details to the press of a meeting which he hadn’t even attended,” said Mr Withers.

He warned that while the token recovery visas were unlikely to attract workers to the UK and delays at the beginning of the year to the Seasonal Agricultural Workers Scheme had limited the number of these taken up, government was likely to spin poor uptake as the food and farming sector not making the most of the help which had been offered. That will set us up to be the whipping boys when the inevitable furore arises over shortages on the supermarket shelves over the orgy of consumerism which Christmas has become.

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While the sector has to help itself in the longer term to clear the engrained image of a line of work with long hours and poor pay and conditions, the immediate problems clearly lie in the political sphere rather than in that of the industry.

Mr Withers said that staff shortages had been on the cards for some time – but the Brexit agreement, which he said was simply a ‘No Deal’ without some of the tariffs, followed by the advent of the Covid-19 pandemic, had seen a huge acceleration in the workforce decline.

“We have been talking with government ministers and warning them of the likely consequences of limiting access to foreign workers since the EU referendum – but whenever discussions get round to mentioning Brexit, the doors are immediately closed,” he said.

Stating that the ‘project fear’ so dismissed by Brexiteers had become ‘project here’, he said that if the UK Government didn’t believe that Brexit had played a significant role in the current shortfall, it was either 'in denial or wired to the moon', adding that, having spoken to many of the key players in the food processing sector, the current level of backlogs meant there was no way supplies could approach normal levels over the festive period.

After being forced to take on the role of the Grinch who stole Christmas last year by announcing more lockdown restrictions over the festivities, the government is going to do everything in its power to dodge this particular bullet for a second year in succession.

But, it’s patently clear that, regardless of what the Government seems to think, the issue, like a dog, isn’t just for Christmas. The problem is likely to be here to stay for quite some considerable time without some serious steps to address it.

I'd have to say it was surprising just how quickly signs of spinning the story to paint it as the sector’s fault came into play – for the very same day as the Johnson interview, what the Conservative party views as the true reflection of country life, Countryfile, waded in with a piece on how badly treated seasonal workers from abroad were when they came to work on farms in the UK.

While I quickly changed channels, in the brief clip which I saw, the piece was heavy on the complaints of a single individual with little sign of balancing the story by hearing from some of the many seasonal workers who, when they were able to, returned year after year to the same farms.

The sad fact is that the lack of labour and the uncertainty over what will be available from next year onwards is likely to lead to a lot of businesses being forced to think very carefully about how their businesses are structured and to assess the gamble which continuing the huge levels of investment required to keep big fruit and veg operations going will still be worth it with no guarantee that the workforce required to harvest it will be available.

Someone mentioned the figure that while the fruit and veg sector accounts for only around 1% of Scotland’s land it produces 16% of the income.

Without the high level of investment required to keep these businesses going, the country’s ability to be self-sufficient in high quality, high value produce will be severely diminished – and while it’s not a cheap option either, at least money invested in a combine is likely to see a harvest gathered in.

Alongside the threat to the pig sector, amongst a whole host of others, the integrated nature of Scotland’s farming sector cannot be ignored – and to misquote a phrase from a different setting – 'No farm is an island, entire of itself'.

So, even although much of the grain harvest might be done and dusted, these issues will have ramifications for us all and, as rocketing fertiliser prices show, we’re not going to be insulated from the cold wind which is blowing through the country and which looks set to drive profitable businesses which have been doing everything they should to the wall.

And so, to finish the quotation: “Never send to know for whom the bell tolls – it tolls for thee.”