Merry Christmas and happy New Year. I hope the festive period has been an enjoyable one for everyone and that Father Christmas brought all the things you asked for. I asked for some booze, some chocolates and our Basic Payment Scheme. Two out of three is not bad I suppose.
The Christmas period has been especially exciting this year for our family as we took the boys on a festive adventure to Lapland. It was an unforgettable experience for all of us, with husky dogs, reindeer, and, of course, a meeting with Father Christmas and his very impressive beard.
Christmas is a time for family and we will not forget this one. I just hope the boys do not want to go back next year.
Looking to the future, I recently attended a Texel society meeting about the genomic project we are part of. We are two years into the project and this is only the start of a long journey, but it is an exciting development.
The work is seeking to improve the mastitis resistance within the Texel breed and use genomic technology to improve meat yield, and many other traits. I think the society is very forward-looking with this pioneering project, and we are proud to be a part of it.
We will have to make the most of the technology available to us as sheep farmers and I am sure this is a step in the right direction.
The New Year is a time for reflection and there has been no shortage of events this year. I do not think anyone could have predicted the Brexit vote or the victory of President-elect Trump.
We live in an ever changing world and it gets harder to predict anything. In 2017, Article 50 will be triggered, and the following trade talks could have a significant impact on agriculture.
Farming may be used as a bargaining chip to secure a better deal for the bankers, or the Government might secure a transitional deal with the EU allowing some stability for our agricultural exports – no-one knows.
Whatever happens we will play the cards we are dealt. We are a resilient bunch and we are part of a great industry. Tens of thousands of jobs rely on us, with farming contributing billions to the UK economy.
The UK food industry is bigger than the automotive and aviation sectors combined, which is a statement which cannot be repeated often enough. Our success is good for Britain, so let us talk ourselves up in 2017.