THE SUCCESS of the AgriScot event on line this week goes beyond the parameters of this event and nowadays the vast majority of people are pretty savvy (or someone in their household is) at getting themselves online to 'events'.

Two things came to mind this week while participating in AgriScot's on-line event: One, just how fragile connectivity is in rural areas and if government wants to move agriculture and, indeed, the rural economy forward, then this has to improve. I don't think that point would be lost on Fergus Ewing MSP, who took part in an excellent debate with NFUS president, Andrew McCornick in front of a four-figure audience – incidentally, many times that of a 'live' event.

If memory serves, he once had 'connectivity' within his remit and it would be clear to him that poor internet access will hinder economic growth, as well as stifling social interaction from an industry which has real issues with mental health within its 'population'. It seems iniquitous that someone in the Western Isles has better internet access than someone just outside Glasgow, but 'up a hill' somewhere – access is for all in this instance.

Secondly, this has now become a method of choice for organisations to get their business done without the time and expense of having a 'real meeting'. However, this can be a double-edged sword for the likes of breed societies whose membership can all too easily exercise their democratic right to be at annual general meetings. It takes a real stalwart to drive 300 miles to attend an agm, but for those keyboard warriors with an intent on nosiness and disruption, it is all too easily done.

A savvy breed secretary, now long gone, once said: "Hold your agms up a mountain in the middle of January – especially if you expect trouble!" That's a bit more difficult to do for on-line events and every Tom, Dick and Harry with an axe to grind can easily make mischief.

However, the success of Agri-Scot has shown that there's much to learn and interest a farming audience in. Even just this time last year, something like this would have had a handful of participants – and many of them desk-bound anyway. It is one of the few plus points of Covid-19 and its lockdowns, that everyone has HAD to get online.

The stats from the event showed that far more delegates took part than its organisers ever expected and that 99% of the almost 1400 registered delegates participated in some way. The average times spent on line at the various webinars was more than two hours, which is exceptional – and there were delegates participating from 16 different countries.

The event's simple on-line poll, with 220 responses, also showed just how views on Brexit have changed. Two years ago, farmers were almost edging towards the 'leave' side – in this poll, 75% voted for 'remain'. That tells you just how polarising Brexit has become – and, sadly, it's not all over yet until the blonde boy sings!