Farmers watch the Tory leadership circus with mounting unease - Andrew Arbuckle

Whether you were amused or confused with all the goings-on in Downing Street does not really matter but if you are in the farming industry, the bottom line in the current battle for the soul of the Conservative Party is bad news.

That may seem a surprising claim as there has been no mention of agriculture in the fashion parade currently being undertaken by those intent on stepping up to the top job of Prime Minister.

So far, the majority of the contestants have concentrated on their aim to cut taxes without detailing just how this will be done or indeed on whose neck the pruning axe will fall.

So far, none of those who wish to live in Downing Street where the previous incumbent splashed a pot of money on some fancy wallpaper, have managed to address major issues such as food security or try to resolve the many sore parts of the farming economy post-Brexit; for example labour shortages.

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No doubt as the election process continues and the election circus moves out into the countryside the surviving two candidates will find it necessary to have selfies taken with some photogenic livestock.

The current incumbent of No.10 managed to demonstrate his incompetence in halter leading a rather reluctant bull that did not seem to buy into being an extra in a political promotional video clip.

But the main concern for the farming community in the current turmoil should be that what may have at times previously been seen as a unified party has now seen its innards opened up to display deep schisms and splits.

Depending on who is awarded the laurel crown at the beginning of September that person and his/her backers will determine future policies for the UK and although nothing is cutting through the present hubbub of headlines, many of them will impact on farming

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An easy example of the threats that face agriculture is in taxation, with one grouping wanting to cut taxes. Superficially there is not much wrong in that until you wonder how any shortfall will keep the NHS, or the education service going or how the defence budget is going to be filled in order to keep the promises currently being sprayed out.

This is where there is a threat to other less prominent Government spending departments such as Defra, which has always been prone to smash-and-grab raids from the Treasury.

Promoted by Defra, the replacement scheme for the Basic Payment Scheme in England is the Environmental Land Management Scheme and plans for this have already been put in place.

However, some right-wing politicians have their beady eyes on this scheme which aims to compensate farmers for hitting environmental objectives. Hardline politicians think such support cash is not essential in a low-tax, free market economy.

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For those who think this ‘support cutting’ danger only refers to South of the Border they should consider that, while Scotland has its own farming policies, it is difficult for these to drift far out of line with those in England.

Any reduction in the agricultural support bag of cash in England will expose Scotland to facing similar reductions here.

There is also the issue of a new Conservative Party leader wanting to bring his own team to the Cabinet table. This may see the demise of the present UK Environment Minister, George Eustice, who has largely avoided any major policy battles between Scotland and England.

While his inoffensive approach to problems may allow him to survive, who knows how many favours an incoming Prime Minister may have to settle. Gifting a ministerial seat in the Cabinet might go to someone no-one outside the political swimming pool knows or recognises but who has shrewdly backed the right horse in this particular race.

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Again, there are implications for Scottish farmers in that the UK ministerial remit does not stop at the Border.

All of this is unfinished business and will remain so with the outcome not being known for a matter of months. Despite protestations to the contrary claiming that it is business as usual, all of this adds to uncertainty in the country at a time when the farming industry is already facing such major diverse threats as labour shortages, fuel price increases and market instability.

What a guddle. What a muddle.

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