THE UNSUNG heroine of our calving operation is my mother, Rosanne – every night, without fail, she checks the cows on the camera.

She enjoys doing it because she is a light sleeper anyway. Her instincts are also finely honed by producing five of her own, coupled with professional training as a midwife, so if either I or the cattleman Kev receive a late night call, I know who it is going to be and also that it is not likely to be a false alarm.

Unfortunately, my mother’s grasp of media technology is not always as sure as her midwifery. She tried to call Kev during the night last month and face-timed him by mistake instead – Kev said all he could see was a mysterious shadow speaking to him in the darkness.

At least they were both under the covers, unlike the old family friend she inadvertently face-timed last week whilst he was in the bath. Because he has the same beginner-level of media awareness as my mother, he took the call.

The way we communicate now is so much more immediate than in the past – e-mail, text, and the dreaded twitter messages can all be fired off very quickly with no opportunity to reflect on what you are saying before you say it, and this is very often not a good thing. The e-mail of the species is more deadly than the mail.

So, sometimes, less is more and we could definitely have done with less from Professor Alan Manning, who was giving evidence to the EU Home Affairs Sub-Committee on his MAC report, last week. Sometimes no amount of quiet reflection will lead a person to the right conclusion.

He said, in response to a question about his lack of enthusiasm for a SAW Scheme for migrant workers: “There is no realistic prospect of that work being done by settled workers, if you cut off access to that (migrant) labour those sectors would find it much harder and they would, to some extent, contract. There has been an extraordinary increase in the amount of land planted to those crops (fruit and veg) since 2004 and you would go backwards, but it wouldn’t be the end of the earth for the country as a whole. The NFU wouldn’t like it...” at which point the baffled questioner butts in: “The public might not like it either”.

Reading through his much-awaited report, so you don’t have to, has not been a labour of love on my part. But these dirty jobs on the farm don’t do themselves, so let me briefly take you through a few of the report’s conclusions and my response to them:

1, Him: “Taking all the relevant new evidence into account it remains the case that the majority of studies find no or little impact of immigration on the employment and unemployment outcomes of the UK-born workforce."

Me: So surely there is no need to restrict migration in that case?

2, Him: “While the failure to have some type of SAWS would be bad for the sector, it is a small, low-wage, low-productivity sector in the wider UK context so this should not be seen as catastrophic for the economy as a whole. It may lead to modestly higher prices for consumers for certain horticultural products. “

Me: It would be catastrophic for agriculture, however. It will lead to significantly higher prices across the board for many products, and not just horticultural ones, and increased imports from abroad.

3, Him: “If there is a scheme for seasonal agricultural workers one has to be very clear that it would give privileged access to migrant labour for one sector which is generally low-wage and low-productivity. It is important that this scheme is restricted to genuine seasonal agricultural workers and does not become used by others."

Me: Wages have increased massively in recent years – labour is not cheap. Permanent migrant labour is also needed on farms because of low unemployment.

4, Him: “There is also the risk that the sector would use a SAWS scheme to avoid the need for higher productivity. The MAC Migrant Seasonal Workers report in May, 2013, stated, 'a replacement SAWS should only be considered if it would help horticulture thrive in the long run ... It is possible that any replacement scheme could be viewed as a transitional measure until the requisite technology – robot apple pickers, for example – comes on-stream'.”

Me: Agriculture as a whole and horticulture in particular have made huge efforts in innovation, technology and capital expenditure to become more efficient, improve yields, become less reliant on labour. That is the only way we have managed to remain viable, despite prices for most agricultural products being the same as they were 25 years ago. Full robotic harvesting and husbandry is a pipe dream.

5, Him: “We think that the sector should pay something in return for this privileged access to labour. We propose that employers are required to pay a higher minimum wage in order to encourage increases in productivity.”

Me: The report continually emphasises low wage and low productivity. Agriculture has a higher minimum wage than all other industries in Scotland. Average wages in horticulture are well above the minimum wage. We are not against higher wages in principal, but the low profitability of the sector makes this a difficult issue. Agriculture is incredibly productive, providing food for the nation as cheaply as it has ever done; it is profitability that is low.

6, Him: “It is important that the newly-announced pilot scheme is properly evaluated to ensure it is not an easy option that allows the agricultural sector access to low- skilled migrant labour on a permanent basis. Ensuring proper compliance is very important as employers would have considerable control over their workers due to their visa status and there would need to be robust mechanisms in place to ensure that this does not lead to abuse.”

Me: Frankly, this is insulting. There already are mechanisms in place with the GLA and SEDEX. Many of the migrant workers on farms have been returning to the same places for many years, which suggests a lack of exploitation.

All the evidence presented in the report should bring a rational person to the conclusion that migration for manually skilled workers (they are not low skilled) is not detrimental socially or economically, but rather the opposite. Our seasonal and permanent migrant workers are nett contributors to the economy.

The end goal of this report has always been to find a way to reduce migration however, so the negative effects of restricting migration are brushed aside. At least Trump bothers to make up his own ‘facts’ to match his conclusions.

The professor acknowledged the damage restricting migration will do to our industry and the added cost to the consumer, but decides to crack on regardless. If the government has any remaining pretensions to be the party of business, they will lob his report in the bin where it belongs.