Sir, – The environmentalists that were around 30 years' ago, when I first got involved with stewardship schemes, were a lot different to the more extreme vegan, climate change environmentalists we see today. 

As a retired livestock farmer, I have always known what bull shit smells like. Listening recently to one of these extreme environmentalists, I now know what bull shit sounds like! 

Having retired, with one of my daughters taking on the farm, and the other two busy with their own non-farming careers, it's all too easy for a family to drift apart. Fortunately, I like to think, by design, we all live fairly close to each other and I make sure that we all get together (including their partners), when possible, in one of our houses for Sunday lunch.

It gives us a chance to have a drink and talk, and whoever is host for the day tends to have one or two of their own friends and family as well. Once the wine has flowed, I find it fascinating listening to the fears and aspirations of the next generation. 

Their views differ as much as their personalities and career and lifestyle choices. For instance, my farming daughter and her farming friends seem a lot more worried about Brexit than the non-farmers. 

The one thing I have noticed recently is the influence of the more extreme environmentalists seems to be creeping in to the non-farmers' conversations. 

Our daughters enjoyed a childhood growing up on a livestock farm and all that goes with it. They got to keep and look after their own calves and lambs, which they were responsible for and got to keep the money from. 

They were treated and educated in the same way, my wife made sure they all socialised and took part fully in pony club activities. I did the same with them in Young Farmers clubs. 

To then see the largely unfounded claims of extreme environmentalists potentially causing a disconnect between my own daughters, is more than embarrassing, it really hurts. 

Not sure whether I was imagining things, or that I had turned in to some sort of a broody dad, I spoke to one or two of my farming friends locally, who I have known for a long time. It seems I am not alone with these concerns.

Industry and promotional activity, television like This Farming Life, initiatives like Open Farm Sundays, all do a fantastic job. I fear, however, that it will not be enough if the extreme environmentalists continue to pick at the very fabric of farming country living. 

It is a pity that we don't have someone on our side of the fence with the national profile of Chris Packham. If that was thought to be worthwhile, I feel it may be a case of cometh the hour, cometh the woman. 

I still judge some YF competitions, I am seeing some very talented, confident and bright young women coming through the system, who care passionately about farming and country life. Recently, after a particularly well thought through and confident presentation, I told the steward that I would be giving that young woman maximum points in every section, and that I felt she would do well in life.

It seems she had already been head hunted by the NFU and would be starting with them at head office when she leaves university. Real talent shines early. 

Would there be any mileage in two talented Young Farmers and someone from their organisation getting a regular slot on the likes of This Farming Life, with a view to at least one of them becoming nationally known to the public, so the public could get to know and trust them. 

I appreciate these things take time, although it didn't take long for Adam Henson to become nationally recognised and respected. 

The industry would say we already have people that deal with the media, but I always think when the industry puts one of its own forward to counter vegan and climate change people, the public always think 'well they would say that, wouldn't they'. 

I am sure there will be other ways that we can quietly fight our corner and fight our corner we surely must. I truly believe if nothing is done to counter the more extreme environmentalists, they will continue to pick at the very fabric of farming country living to a point to where it could start to unravel.

Whatever form Brexit takes – if it ever takes one – I hope I am around for long enough to see if this promised brave new world turns out to be any more safe and prosperous for the next generation, than the relatively safe and prosperous world my generation enjoyed by being part of an all be it flawed EU.

I suppose time will tell.


John Maxwell