IT'S HARD to find positives in these days of weather and media-hysteria-induced dystopian gloom – but there is one, tiny bright spot and that's the price of sheep.

Only last summer, the 'experts' were predicting that it would be the end of the world as we know it for flockmasters if we left the EU without a deal. A catastrophic drop in values would see sheep farming almost wiped off the map in the UK – they said. Yet, here we are more than six months later, enjoying a flying trade and some would even say that, for the time of year, it is a record one.

It's nice to see experts trumped for a change! But, then in some Machiavellian twist, they may yet be proved correct, for we still have more or less the same playing field from before that eventually successful vote to leave the EU. This scenario will run until such time that we actually do float off into the Atlantic, probably by the end of this year.

But, to continue the good news, everyone seems to be getting the message that we cannot carry livestock passengers any more. So, empty ewes, and cull rams have been running down the road to the slaughterhouse as fast as they can hirple to make the most of the current good fortune.

That can only augur well for later in the year. The unproductive get short-shrift and that should leave those that are left to be more productive, and that leads to greater efficiency and ... ta da ... a reduced carbon footprint!

Would that this were the case with beef cattle, the prices of which are still languishing somewhere between awful and really awful (we've heard stronger language used!). There's a lesson there – a good cull price wouldn't half encourage the no-hopers to go down the road. But, it's hard to see what is holding the market down and stopping it from flying off like a beef baron's helicopter?

Big negatives

ON THE downside this week, we had an 'important' (self-aggrandisement?)' government advisor, Dr Tim Leunig, claiming that agriculture and fishing were irrelevant to the economy of the UK. And then we heard hints that the red diesel tax rebate was to be done away with by the new Chancellor, Rishi Sunak.

Obviously, both are suffering from urban myopia. The Doc should get out a bit more and see the green and pleasant countryside that agriculture actually delivers, while the keeper of the keys to the Treasury's biscuit tin will find that fishermen and farmers pale into insignificance when he lines up against the burly might of the building trade, which will also lose its favoured status on fuel.

As James Porter pointed out in his Farm View a couple of months ago, food shortages and famine have been the biggest source of civil unrest in many dynasties across the world. Which is exactly what we would appear to be sleep-walking into led by the Pied Pipers of Westminster.