Outgoing National Farmers Union president Peter Kendall has had his fair share of criticism, much of it over the badger cull. Dorset beef farmer Andy Foot says it is undeserved.
Apparently when Steve Peacock, a journalist of long-standing, former BBC Farming Today editor and currently agricultural adviser for the longest running soap of all time, Radio 4's The Archers, spoke at Devon NFU's recent annual open meeting he admitted wryly that he was relieved that the culling of badgers had not (yet) been rolled out in Borsetshire.
But he also made the serious supplementary point that, whilst you will never, ever get everyone to agree with you, never assume that everyone is against you either. Make sure people have all the facts, he suggested, because pressure groups 'tend to push lines' and there are other points of view.
From the tone of recent newspaper 'punditry' and the oft-repeated and inaccurate accusations from 'the usual suspects' in the correspondence columns, some farming readers should take solace from his sage observations.
I am by no means a connoisseur of fine wine, but, like most, I am not overly keen on the bouquet of sour grapes or their lingering bitterness on the palate. And my goodness, hasn't there been a lot of that particularly obnoxious vintage poured out by the pundits lately!
I suppose it is to be expected that any leader worthy of the name will be beset by lesser mortals carping, criticising and castigating every aspect of their personalities and policies, promulgating very little of a positive nature in the process. Sadly, not all losers are "good" and there are some "dead" men who never quite know when to lie down.
Such is life, and I am sure that outgoing NFU president Peter Kendall will rise above it all. He will certainly be sorely missed by the majority of us here in the South West as the fond farewell and thanks he received from well over 100 Dorset NFU members at our recent annual meeting will testify.
He has achieved a huge amount in re-establishing the notion that farming is a great industry, producing vital food supplies and supporting tens of thousands of jobs as well as stewarding a clean, green countryside rather than being some sort of home-spun, Hardy-esque lifestyle choice.
But towering head and shoulders above even this welcome and overdue 're-balancing' of public perception has been the fact that he has been, and remains, at the forefront of an achievement of Olympian significance for us – establishing the principle that culling badgers as part of the push-back against bovine TB is the right and only option.
A few home truths need to be told on this score.
First and foremost is that these pundits who purport to speak regularly on behalf of and, they would claim, knowledgeably, about the farming community, sometimes from within it and occasionally from the fringes and shadows of the past, do the silent majority a huge disservice.
They keep stoking the embers of dissent, which from my own observations and conversations is vastly over-egged and which will come like manna from heaven to the activists whose sole objective is to get as much sustained and negative publicity for culling, in any form and from any quarter, as possible.
The vast majority of livestock farmers of my acquaintance are extremely relieved and grateful that at last something tangible is being done about the sizeable reservoir of disease amongst badgers, the ignored elephant in the room for far too long purely for the sake of political popularity.
What these pundits are saying is actually not only divisive and undermining but also patronisingly dismissive of the huge efforts that have been put into the pilot culls, by the brave farmers, cull companies, local communities and NFU staff involved in the face of a degree of intimidation and propaganda.
Let's make no bones about it, even in the face of all the disruptive activity, the culls were carried out safely and humanely and will assist in damping down the disease in those areas.
Characterising that as a "failure" is like calling me a vegetarian!
As for the activists, some maybe of genuine but misguided intent and none of us relishes having to cull badgers, but the hard core coalition which so greedily pounces on every morsel of media attention it can get, emanates predominantly from people and organisations of a vegan/animal rights disposition who do not wish livestock farming or farmers to exist at all. As a leader of livestock farmers myself, I would suggest that there is no truth like an old truth – united we stand, divided we fall.
Maybe if we build on the achievement Peter has led us to rather than denigrating it and mount a positive, rather than a negative campaign we could see the South West, after so many years absence, represented on the NFU's top table where, as England's foremost livestock farming region, it should undoubtedly be.
Andy Foot is the NFU South West livestock board chairman