Panic buying at supermarkets, and concerns about the future of small shops as the country went into lockdown mode, had seen this sector rise up to the news agenda before this summer’s Great Yorkshire Show had to be cancelled.
A difficult decision because it will cost the North Yorkshire economy an estimated £40m, it was, nevertheless, the only responsible course of action open to the event’s organisers.
And it also highlights another potential problem – a labour shortage on Yorkshire’s farms as a result of EU migrants not being able to work in this country because of restrictions on their movement.
This was always going to be the case after the country had left the EU. But the Covid-19 pandemic has, inevitably, brought about added urgency and this is acknowledged by Nigel Pulling, the much respected chief executive of Yorkshire Agricultural Society, with his call for a modern day ‘land army’ to assist with the picking of fruit and vegetables.
Laborious work, it is also critical that work begins now to ensure that farmers have sufficient manpower to pick crops while also conforming to prevailing public health protocols.
As Mr Pulling says: “When the call for NHS support came, 500,000 people volunteered overnight. We need the same kind of response to ensure that food gets picked and makes it to the shops.”
It is an assertion which offers much food for thought this weekend.