Guest View by Norman Bagley

Head of policy, Association of Independent Meat Suppliers

I wrote in my first Farm View a couple of months ago: 'One last thought. If you think your government could be more supportive of Scottish agriculture, try farming in England where the anti-production blob is in full flow'.

That hasn’t aged very well has it, especially in light of the rejection of Jim Walker’s Suckler Beef Climate Group Programme, by senior civil servants in the Scottish Government, despite the Cabinet Secretary, Fergus Ewing, having been in full support.

On what grounds, given that the Civil Service Codes requires 'integrity, honesty, objectivity, and impartiality'. Maybe some now need a refresher course?

whatever happened to the adage 'advisors advise, Ministers decide', when it appears that environmentalism and accompanying diktats on diet trumps everything else.

Looking at the history of this, there is a thread which exposes who is really in charge of vital parts of agricultural funding across GB and exposes some weakness of devolved administrations when push comes to shove.

Just under three years ago, my chairman and I met Lesley Griffiths, the Welsh Agriculture Minister. So impressed with her total commitment to direct support for livestock production to continue, that I opined that we could do with her as agriculture minister in Whitehall to sort out the anti-production mob.

Not long after, one of the senior Defra civil servants moved to the agriculture department in the Welsh Government in what seemed an innocuous career move. As I warned at the time, it looked to me more like a Defra Sherpa being dispatched to sort out the recalcitrant Taffs (I am one too) and bring them into line.

Sure enough, within no time, direct support was out of the window and the agriculture policy in Wales looked like a cut and paste of Defra’s.

One down, one to go.

The following April, I listened to Fergus Ewing at the Scottish Association of Meat Wholesalers' conference answer a question from a farming representative who told him he needed to go to Westminster and tell them where to get off on support issues. Ewing politely told the gentleman he would do no such thing as Defra held the chequebook. Some zinger was that.

Fast forward and it looks remarkably as if history is repeating itself, with Scottish Government now infiltrated with Defra Sherpas delivering Defra’s wishes. Or put more brutally – do as you’re told, or the chequebook gets torn up, pronto. It’s not just the recalcitrant Taffs, but naughty Scots too now it seems.

Why does all this matter now? Well, it’s a small matter of COP26 which is being held in Glasgow this November.

I have it on good authority from a Westminster mole that current proposals for livestock production are mind bending. As I have said for years, they want to effectively end it in commercial terms and COP26 is a God-given chance to complete the dream of Goldsmith, Carrie, and all the other leftie sycophants in Whitehall.

To my mind one issue tops all others – the UK must come out of this looking virtuous at all costs. One last push, as they say.

Following the defenestration of his report to date, Jim Walker said it’s a battle we must win. He isn’t joking, that’s for sure. This time it’s across the whole of the UK and the advisors to ministers must remember 'integrity, honesty, objectivity, and impartiality'.

There’s no room for nationalism here – it’s one for all.