It's not so much the vaunted 'fig leaf' that will be needed to cover over the monumental balls-up that happened this week regarding the voting down of amendments to the Agriculture Bill. It'll need to be a Blacks of Greenock tarpaulin.

The fact is, in the event of a no deal Brexit, this country will be used as a dumping ground for cheap food from many parts of the globe, with absolutely no assurances that even a smidgeon of it will have been produced to the rigorous standards that are applied, expected and, indeed, inspected for in the UK.

While there have been glib assurances from many politicians that animal welfare and health and hygiene standards will be upheld, the disingenuous nature of Brexit negotiations so far would tend to suggest that lip service it will remain.

A worryingly depressing documentary aired this week by Channel 4 on the eve of the vote in the House of Commons only served to hammer home what the prospect is, not just for the farming industry, but the Great British consumer it has served well for generations, from a veritable avalanche of inferior food products that are about to be sucked into the UK if Brexit negotiations falter.

Facts like 90% of all turkey meat destined for US supermarkets were allegedly infected with e-coli and that US pork was up to six times more likely to have salmonella than UK pork, were brought to the fore in this investigative piece. Furthermore, it alleged that e-coli was found by experts in 80% of US chicken, 70% of beef and 60% of pork.

Those are shocking statistics and, if true, would be more than just a metaphorical death knell for much of our home-bred livestock industry, but a literal funeral toll for the people who consume it. This is far too important a topic for the industry to accept that it will be able to do a 'I told you so' somewhere further down the line. This has to be stopped now before something disastrous happens.

Show goes on

ON a more positive note, it's great to see the resilience of the farming industry typified by the positive attitude being shown by the RHASS, the organiser of our flagship Royal Highland Show.

The show 'will go on' but maybe not on the huge scale that we have become used to, promised its CEO Alan Laidlaw, this week. That's great news all round. It's also sad, but inevitable, that the show has had to show due cognisance of a major downturn in its fortunes by striving to put its own 'house' in order to take account of what will be a very different event, especially if we cannot beat, or vaccinate against this damned coronavirus by then. We can only hope for the positivity of negative tests by June, 2021!