Seeing the images of burning pyres of livestock, reading the recollections of people who lived through it, and assessing the numbers which illustrate the scale of the foot-and-mouth crisis is a sobering process.
Twenty years on, it is a period in farming’s history which still has the ability to stop you in your tracks.
For the anniversary to fall at a time when the world is battling the worst human disease pandemic for a century is a strange trick of coincidence. And while it is not right to make overt comparisons between the two, there is no doubt that, just as foot-and-mouth brought about seismic change for farming, so too will coronavirus for much of wider society longer term.
Those days of 2001 are edging further into the past, but the scale of the change they caused in agriculture is far reaching two decades on, with size and structure of the industry altered in a sudden and unforgiving way that neither Brexit nor Covid-19 will emulate.
It was a time, as reflected upon in this week’s anniversary special, when fear reigned and there was a huge lack of understanding in the early stages about the spread of the disease, with equal tussles later on about the best ways to get on top of the problem.
From the impact it had on reducing the number of livestock marts, as well as ironically showing their worth as the deadweight processors seized control of the market, foot-and-mouth would also lead to large-scale changes in livestock tracing.
More intangibly it thinned out the number and type of farmers in certain areas, with some smaller operators taking their chance to either leave the industry altogether or, as many did, diversify their farms into tourism or other forms of commercial enterprise.
Those days of 2001 rightly stand as a milestone in farming’s modern history and they laid the foundations for the huge changes the industry has experienced since. More importantly, the lessons learned then mean that those dark days will hopefully never be repeated here in the UK.