SO WE have a Tory Government which has a substantial enough majority to blow any opposition out of the water – and that means Brexit will happen.

At just what pace it will happen, though, remains a moot point. The UK Government has said that the ‘deal’ will be signed before the end of January, but that, as they say, will only be the beginning of the end. There remains a lot to play for and a lot of hard bargaining to do and some think tanks believe that a finality could be years down the line ... maybe even a decade or so!

For farming, limbo land is still the name of the game, despite the fact that NFUS’ president, Andrew McCornick, said the election will put an end to the ‘dither and delay’ that has so stifled confidence in the industry. The reality is that, as an industry, it remains little further forward except in the knowledge that Brexit will happen.

And, while it would be nice to think it was so, we can’t think that the delay in Brexit from October 31 that has so helped the UK farming industry was foremost on the minds of those who choreographed the Tory win last week at the General Election.

Undoubtedly, the removal of yet another ‘red line’ in October helped UK Ag PLC when it allowed usual trading arrangements to not only ease the trade of sheep to major ‘customers’ in France, Spain and Italy, but also expedited the removal of a large tonnage of our feed grain surplus – both of which could have been subject to debilitating tariffs.

Just what support measures will be put in place once the CAP doesn’t fit is a speculative game to be played out for many months yet.

Positives include the fact that when re-writing the book into a UK-style CAP (a bunnet?), then we can be rid of some of the more stifling effects of the EU diktat that one size fits all when it comes to agricultural support. It’s certainly going to be a dripping roast for agri-news commentators for years to come.

But there’s a dog-fight coming between those who want to see all effort and monies go to ‘environmental’ benefit; and those who would like it being used to encourage elements of production that will give us a more efficient and in time more profitable industry. Both sides have to accept that they cannot have it all their own way and that their dogmas might not actually be that mutually exclusive. There is common ground to be had – finding it will be the key.

One thing is for sure: If Scotland is to meet its onerous ‘greening’ targets of being carbon neutral by 2045 (or even sooner, if some get their way), then agriculture will play a huge part in that. But it must be understood that achieving this status for the industry does not have to be at the expense of it being totally neutered.

On a more festive note - The SF wishes its readers a very Merry Christmas!