That was a year to forget ... or was it. By the time you read this, the Christmas fare will be there reminding you that you ate too much – and it really is time to go out and get that work done!

For farming, really, the Covid-19 outbreak did not have much of an economic impact. It was business as usual in terms of much of production of crops and livestock – and again, as per the norm, some parts did better than others.

We could not have predicted at the start of 2020, that sheep would be the Cinderella of the industry that went to the ball, while malting barley fell victim to the 'Ugly Sisters' fighting amongst themselves for new ways to get out of contracts.

It just goes to show how fickle fortune can be – and that's before we take into account the capricious nature of the weather. Again that produced a year of contrasts – wet, then very dry, then wet and then very wet!

Thus, it has been hard to find many plus points from 2020. If we look hard enough, though, we can find some.

We have all become experts in something called Zoom – the likes of which did not even enter the psyche of anyone older than 32. It seems that necessity breeds invention again and now many silver surfers are quite proficient in taking part in on line meetings.

The quite catastrophic after effects of the pandemic meant that many businesses and organisation that were part of agriculture's infrastructure were forced to look within themselves for new ways of working. And they did.

Working from home is now part of what euphemistically is being called the 'new norm'. It has had quite a seismic effect on rural areas especially in that the 'dormitory town' effect is increasingly no longer a driver of property prices, but that good location with access to decent broadband and communication services are. A whole new population is moving to more rural areas.

This marks quite a shift and as an industry, it asks many questions of us. Not the least of which are challenges that can be grasped. The pandemic's restrictions have, if nothing else, rammed home to many the importance of buy local, eat local.

This week, we were served notice of just how important that will be in a post-Brexit world, by the unilateral decision by France to restrict British freight traffic from their ports. While it might have also worked the other way in reminding Continental Europe just what they will miss from us, it was a stark warning that we must look more to home for primary food sourcing. Do we really need strawberries in winter and turnips in summer?

That might just be the biggest positive to come out of Covid-19 for the British people and the people who produce their food.

* The Scottish Farmer would like to thank all of its readers and advertising clients for their support during this difficult year for all of us. We wish you the merriest of Christmases – but please temper that with the fact that a great many people will no longer be sitting around their family tables to enjoy the food that you have provided for them.