MOST of us will be familiar with the excellent political insight portrayed in the TV sit-com, ‘Yes Minister’ – you know, where the politicians are unwittingly manipulated, side-lined and then downright ignored by a Civil Service which sees itself as really running the country?

While there will always be an element of truth in the best of sit-coms, it would appear that as far as agriculture is concerned, it seems that it really is the case – and the word ‘service’ is the biggest misnomer of our age! In contrast, reference the hard work and diligence shown by those in the farmer-led groups that have painstaking worked over many months to put together credible plans to allow the industry to survive, even thrive, while at the same time being able to meet the nett zero ambitions of the Scottish Government.

Led by the Suckler Beef Climate Change Group, the likes of the arable, dairy and hill, upland and crofting groups have all now handed in their reports. They have, by and large, been greeted with enthusiasm by politicians across quite a wide swathe of the landscape – including the First Minister herself.

However, as Jim Walker rages about on this page (he being a co-author of the suckler beef group report) and Brian Henderson flags up in his Arable Matters column, the eminently sensible proposals from those groups which have published – and which, undoubtedly, may have needed some fine tuning – look like they may be drowned in a tsunami of indecision, obtuseness, and blocking tactics by those charged with implementing them into policy.

The only conclusion we can reach is that, far from invigorating agriculture, the easy switch to Plan B will be to decimate the livestock industry to such an extent that it can reach climate change targets simply by a paucity of credible numbers. It’s a plan which mirrors the Plan A being enacted south of the Border, where there’s a fluffy vision that honey bees, dancing butterflies and fleeting birds will automatically be the result of chasing livestock off the fields. Not so.

Looking to our continental neighbours, especially Germany and France, there they make special payments to KEEP livestock in their hilly regions because of their proven ability to maintain biodiversity. There are many, many small glens now in Scotland that are devoid of livestock and a wander through them will tell you that the ones where livestock remain, are the ones where wildlife flourishes. Those left to the wrack and ruin of heather and bracken, are devoid of birdsong, bar the crack of rooks and hoodie crows.

Recently, there has been an uprising of country people raising their voice in protest at not being listened to by Government policy makers, which prefer to listen to those luvvies who shout loudest from their London apartments, or from their new ‘wokeness’ about the environment fed by the bile of anti-farming lobbyists, like Chris Packham.

This is a fight for all that would want to see a thriving, clean and green livestock industry that underpins a struggling Scottish economy. This past year has been a fantastic one for agriculture (unless you have potatoes!) and it would be great to quantify just how much of this has filtered down to the tradesmen and business people of our towns and villages. Time for us all to have our farming voices heard.