IT'S BEEN difficult not to end the year ourselves as 'Bah Humbug' Old Scrooges, but it is also the time of year for daft stories to come out which lighten the load somewhat after a difficult farming year.

Firstly, the leading 'Bah Humbug' award goes to a piece of drivel sent out by a business which sells nutritional supplements. It declared that the average British Christmas dinner contained a 'dangerous amount of calories' and was capable of doing unseen damage to the nation’s health.

A traditional British Christmas dinner contained 1992 kcal it said and that was equal to the daily caloric allowance for an average female and needed 2½ hours of continual running to work off – collectively, we will all put on over 19.5m stone by New Year, it said.

So what, Mr Foodie Scrooge? – most farmers eat 2000 calories for breakfast and burn it off by working hard.

Number two Bah Humbug was from Lancashire County Council's 'Tips for a waste-free Christmas' – it wanted us all to eat no more than six sprouts, as more than that will end up in the bin!

And all this comes at a time when everyone is telling us all to eat more veg – that will only come about, however, if we have the labour available to us to harvest them in the first place.

So, who's the Santa Clause of the year?

Well, it might just be that CabSec Fergus Ewing has pulled off a nicely wrapped gift for livestock farmers in the Less Favoured Areas out of his sack. His 'gift' contains a promise of £65m for the under-threat LFASS payment scheme – now that must be welcome.

But I'm torn between that and the news that researchers in Sydney, Australia, have come up with a DNA test for wheat which will help stamp out rust disease's resistance to chemistry. Apparently, the test identifies which rusts carry the gene that enable it to build resistance. So, this could really be a breakthrough which will extend the lives of many of our standard treatments for rust which are under threat from the rising tide of varietal resistance.

However, the leading candidate for Santa of the Year must be the people who put the calories on the table for that 'dangerous' Christmas dinner – the farming industry itself. No other type of business could this year have withstood such a rain-induced and a Brexit-fuelled political windstorm and still come out smiling (almost!) at the end of it.

All of the staff at The Scottish Farmer wish our readers large and small the very best of Christmas cheer – and eat as much as you can.