In 2001, a whole other pandemic almost destroyed farming in the UK. Livestock had to be burned in obscene amounts to contain the Foot and Mouth virus. It worked, but only just. And the cost was terrible.
Twenty years later, farmers are faced with a not-unlikely prospect of having to burn more livestock, if a feared ‘meat mountain’ grows, with exports of livestock to the EU becoming unworkable, illogical and uneconomical, leaving cattle unsalable while accruing costs to feed and maintain. The pyre beckons.
The industry may have dodged the twin bullets of a food standards bonfire with a Trump US deal, and the chaos of a No Deal Brexit – however given how difficult things are becoming now, the mind boggles how awful it could have been.
The current crisis in farming is an entirely man-made one, or rather, a Brexit-made one. The cost and logistics of transporting cattle are making some question whether or not it’s worth continuing at all.
Back in October 2020, the impact on farming was deemed “more uncertain than ever”. In December 2020, there were vague attempts to offer clarity to farmers, but this achieved very little. Now, in February 2021, Britain’s £10m trade is stalled.
And the dominos of Brexit continue to fall.