WITH the phrase ‘public goods’ being the buzz-word in Government circles for post-Brexit agricultural support, there could be no doubting the public benefit delivered by farmers during the Red Alerts of white-out and freezing conditions of last week.

While the public were emphatically told to retreat indoors to fight off the chill of Siberian-style wintry conditions across the country, for many farmers in Scotland it was a case of trying to keep up with ‘business as usual’. As emergency services battled to remain effective and reach the more vulnerable in society, it was Scottish farmers who stepped in, assisting neighbours and strangers, clearing roads, delivering supplies, and making it that little bit more possible for society to function.

Meanwhile, those same road clearing farmers – ¬ many of whom were under no contractual obligation – also had to tend to livestock; feeding and watering their beasts in blizzard conditions, struggling to find their sheep on the hills, bringing spring calvers in to the sheds and milking their dairy cows. At the same time as they were spending many hours delivering ‘public goods’, many of them did so in the full knowledge that some of them could be losing livestock to the Beast from the East and that, in all likelihood, their milk would be poured down the drain.

Our society takes food security for granted and recent generations have failed to recognise the important link between the products they buy and the hard work and determination of the farmers behind the produce that they consume. As we move forward with Brexit and questions are raised as to the necessity of subsidy support for our farmers in the future, the industry should hope that these events serve as a sharp reminder of the importance of Scottish farmers to society in general.

With their ‘get on with it’ attitude, too often the hard work put in by farmers to ensure that supermarket shelves are full of fresh and assured quality produce, goes by unsung. What is apparent is that, like last week when food security was threatened – and those self-same supermarket shelves were devoid of the very basics of life – especially milk and bread – then as an industry, we should be hammering home the fact that farming and its people are very much the mainstay of a stable economy, indeed of a stable society.

What farmers achieved last week should not be forgotten or belittled.