By Debbie James

The year 2020 is one that will be fixed in our memories for a long time to come.

As food producers, farmers have been rightly acknowledged as key workers but for some farmers and their families Covid has taken its toll financially and in other ways.

In the early days of the pandemic, some dairy farmers were forced to dump milk when their buyers had no use for it. It was spring and the dairy sector was approaching peak production.

The closure of the food-service sector threatened to destroy our meat industry but thankfully, despite disruption in the system, that didn’t happen.

Aside from the economic challenges, the virus has taken its toll on the social fabric of rural communities in Wales.

Initially, farmers joked that they had been self-isolating and social distancing for years but, as the restrictions continue, it has been for some the most difficult aspect to deal with.

Often the support of those around us, the people we meet at shows and events, is a release from the usual pressures of farming.

Brexit was another worry to throw into the mix but it is good news that free trade in most agricultural products will continue.

Goods will however face border checks and there will be extra paperwork such as export health certificates which could push up the price of some products.

But the continuing absence of tariffs will come as a relief to Welsh sheep farmers who had faced an average levy of 48 per cent on their exports.

The UK exports about 30 per cent of its lamb, and 95 per cent of that goes to the European Union.

It is now vital that the government does all it can now to prioritise exports of perishable products to make sure that these products are not left languishing in queues at the border.