I know this is a farming paper, but I hope you will forgive me a slight diversion, because it is clearly relevant to agriculture.

For the past couple of years, more than 100 Ukrainians, Belarussians and Russians have come and worked on our farm in the summer months picking fruit. They have lived and worked alongside each other in harmony.

Last week, I emailed our Ukrainian friends who had worked here and the responses were, without exception, courageous. Many were fearful about what might happen to them and their families, but also resolved to stand their ground.

Marina, who lives in the Kharkov region, emailed this reply: “Explosions are heard not far from us. And it’s been like that for four days. Everyone is scared. Russia started a war against us for no reason. Innocent people and children are dying. It’s a terrible pain. We hope everything ends soon. We have a basement for shelter.”

I didn’t know what to say to her except to try and stay safe. Others are offering more practical help. Notably Mossgiel Organic Farm have been co-ordinating lorries to Poland with supplies for refugees, and Scottish/Ukrainian farming operation, the Central Plains Group (see also page 18), are also sending a flight over this week with aid.

There is clearly overwhelming support in the country to allow refugees to come here with no visa restrictions, as the EU have already done to their great credit. Surely UK government must do the same.

They have given good support up to now, but it’s a poor show if we can’t offer at the very least temporary shelter to these refugees on our doorstep. They are escaping conflict, they don’t want to move here permanently.

In Russia and Belarus, there have been many protests against the invasion of Ukraine and thousands of arrests. This is not Russia’s war, it is Putin’s.

His outrageous assault on Ukraine is a disgraceful affront to the proposition that people and countries should be able to live in peace, and although we face years to come of instability and uncertainty, the way forward could not be more certain.

Fundamentally, Ukraine’s fight is also our one, because we have seen this behaviour before in Europe 75 years ago and we know where it ends if you don’t stand up to it.

I am not trying to be grandiose, but rather wanted to set the background for the conclusion this leads us to, because it has massive implications for food policy and security.

A change of emphasis is already happening in the energy sector. Last week, Lord Deben – who heads up the Climate Change Committee – recognised that whilst he is still not in favour of new oil fields in the North Sea, national considerations of a secure supply of oil might override his aim to reduce the nation’s carbon footprint.

The implication is clear – self-sufficiency is back on top of the agenda. That doesn’t just mean fuel and energy supply, it should also include the most critical fuel and energy source of all – food.

The new ELMS scheme in England will surely need to be adjusted to include a previously overlooked consideration of food production, and in Scotland, we should be thankful the ARIOB is still deliberating what will replace our old scheme, because whatever was going to replace it was inevitably going to include less support for food production and more for trees.

Many of us have been arguing against this for some time, partly in anticipation of the very political situation we are now facing. The war in Ukraine has already pushed wheat futures for May to £259 as I write, but that’s up £16 in a day, so who knows what it will be by the time you read this.

The first duty of any government is to feed its people and you can’t do that safely and securely without producing a big percentage of that yourself. We can still make big environmental and carbon reduction efforts, but there needs to be a balance.

With that in mind, a change of attitude at the Home Office towards seasonal labour would be welcome.

Read more: James Porter's Farm View: A tricky climate for many reasons!

The situation is now critical for fruit and veg growers in the UK, and it would be negligent to ignore it. The latest report compiled by Anderson’s consultants for British Summer Fruits is grim reading.

Already under pressure from massive cost increases in fertiliser, coir (the growing medium used in tabletop growing systems) packaging and transport, the Home Office decided they were not yet doing enough to kill off horticulture in the UK. Some bright spark thought it would be a great wheeze to impose a massive increase over and above the National Living Wage, which is already rising from £8.91 to £9.50 in April.

They proposed that seasonal workers in the scheme must be paid in line with the skilled worker visa, which would effectively mean an hourly rate of £12.31 which, after employer’s NI, holiday pay and pension contributions, will cost the grower almost £15. For the sake of clarity, this would add around £300k to my own wage bill alone, and tens of millions of pounds to growers nationally.

Questioned at the NFU Conference last week, George Eustice said this was a mistake and the real rise would be to £10.10 per hour, still more than double the projected national living wage increase. We still don’t know what the rise is going to be, but anything above the NLW will simply not be sustainable.

There is no chance a grower will get this back from the retailer without completely killing sales, particularly for those most in need of fresh, healthy food who can least afford it.

Well done the Home Office. It’s not easy to single-handedly wipe out a vital, productive and efficiently functioning industry, but those guys could do it with both hands tied behind their backs whilst sleeping.

It’s hard to see how they can improve on their efforts so far, but they never disappoint – we await their next genius move in eager anticipation. Not!