MAYBE Brexit is not the main threat to agriculture within these shores that we perceive it to be. While there is no doubt that whatever happens with Brexit there will be an economic plague that will befall this industry, but is there a bigger threat to long-term productivity than mere monetary loss?

As of recent weeks, it has been clear that the tectonic plates of legislative power across Europe have shifted in favour of the ‘greens’ in many governments and within the corridors of power in Brussels. This clarity comes courtesy of the banning of the fungicide chlorothalonil, an old stager which has stood the test of time and been a mainstay of the fight against crop disease for many decades. Now, it has now been summarily dismissed by EU regulators, thus robbing the industry of a raft of robust products capable of ‘doing what they say on the tin’ and at reasonable cost.

At a stroke, growers are likely to lose this important piece of their disease fixing toolkit by spring 2020 – and there are few, if any, successors lining up in the wings to fill the gap. Like the neonic ban on seed treatment, the loss of diquat as a desiccant for potatoes, and the future loss of glyphosate – perhaps our greatest ever herbicide – this will be a hammer blow to farmers across Europe, but especially so in Scotland which has a more temperate climate suited to the proliferation of disease and pestilence.

Cultural and management changes can only go so far in controlling fungal disease and damaging pests without resorting to ‘the can’, and if yields are to be maintained and the nation fed, then growers must be at a loss as to how they will manage to achieve those aims. Blackgrass, for instance, has already led to ‘no go’ areas for winter cereals in some parts of England – it is a scourge that is waiting to happen north of the Border once glyphosate goes.

The loss of essential controls will be especially acute for UK farming as it is also abundantly clear that the politicians of this country are covering their ass against the threat of food becoming more expensive post-Brexit.

They are, literally, throwing open the floodgates to cheap food imports and there are countries across the world who do not have spurious crop protection product bans; who do not have the restriction of pernicious weed control methods and whose farm assurance scheme will not hold a candle to that which is thrust upon UK farmers in the name of ‘traceability’, willing and able to send their produce.

In short, we’ll have all the costs associated with being hemmed in by legislation, while others sending food here can cut their cloth to suit themselves. It is time those in power woke up to the fact that food security and food safety – much vaunted by them in the past – come at a cost.

There will come a time in the future when they will wake up and say: “Why did we do that?’ – but by that time they’ll need to rip up trees and burn heather to bring back the production of ‘food’.