EVERY single accidental death on a farm is an utter tragedy. It devastates families, even drives them apart and leaves an indelible memory on those it affects.

Even though the fact that farm deaths were at one of the lowest historical levels in the past year, this should not deflect the industry from a path towards zero deaths because of health and safety lapses. That's because the fact is that the vast majority – if not all – deaths by accident on farm are not truly accidental. They all have an avoidable cause.

Whether it is poor machinery maintenance, lack of awareness, ignorance of proper risk assessment or a blasé attitude to wearing safety gear, the harsh truth is almost every tragedy has been preventable. Writing such a catastrophe off as an 'accident' is just as indifferent, simply because 99% of them would not have happened if certain measures had been properly adhered to.

Yes we should applaud a reduction in these awful statistics, but we should never forget that many friends, neighbours and family members would still be here but for a little bit of vigilance. And please drum it into those on the road that using a mobile phone in a tractor, with or without implements, is a disaster waiting to happen.

It's sickening to see machinery with a gross vehicle weight of more than 30-tonnes or more hurtling around country roads with a 17-year-old (or any age for that matter) at the wheel and on his phone. If that goes wrong because someone wasn't paying attention, then it's going to be a tragedy for everyone involved – maybe those in charge of an operation which involves large machinery should also be held culpable in any action, not just the driver?

AgriScot's disappointment

We can say with some certainty that the agricultural industry as a whole has missed the annual round of summer shows, not the least of which was the nation's favourite, the Royal Highland. Any hopes for one last all-industry hurrah for 2020 at AgriScot have now been dashed – it has become yet another victim of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Hopes now rest with LiveScot in becoming a main event of the year and even those aspirations must be fading fast. However, there remains considerable potential for this event – which is run by the Scottish National Fatstock Club – if it could go ahead, but it's hard to see how the usual Lanark venue could be usefully and safely held if the regulations remain the way they are.

However, it is also a much less complicated format than AgriScot and there is still a 'wait and see' chance of it being organised. We can only live in hope that any forthcoming planning meetings can be positive ...