Anthony Gibson All that's good about farming... and not so good
If each of our one-day shows has its own distinct character, drawn from the farming community which it serves, then the hallmark of the Melplash Show, in West Dorset, has to be its friendliness.
The setting is absolutely perfect. The little showground is so close to the sea that you can hear the waves rolling on to the shingle at nearby West Bay, and the fact that so many holidaymakers also go to the show for a touch of real West Country life all helps to give it an almost festive atmosphere.
Last Thursday the mood at the show was as sunny as the weather. This has been as good a summer for farming in West Dorset as it has been for tourism, and the bars, refreshment tents and a magnificent local food marquee were all doing a roaring trade.
I was there to say a few words at the President's lunch, and was slightly taken aback to discover that among my audience was none other than the hard-working, oft-tweeting Vice-President of the NFU, Adam Quinney. After lunch, Adam and I went off in search of the NFU tent.
By the time we tracked it down, Adam had taken at least half-a-dozen calls on his mobile, all of them relating to the badger cull and in particular to the injunction which the NFU was seeking in the High Court that very afternoon. I was encouraged by the confidence which he displayed, not just about the likely outcome of the court case, but also in respect of the entire exercise.
The decision last autumn to delay the cull for a year has evidently allowed careful, detailed arrangements to be put in place this time, to minimise the likelihood of things going badly wrong. The injunction should help, as well.
That doesn't mean to say that this is going to be a risk-free exercise, not by any means. The protestors will do everything they can to disrupt, divide and distort the issue and the events. But I am reassured by the sheer professionalism being displayed by the prime movers on the farming side. And even if there is a great hue and cry in the media, I don't think we should exaggerate the likely impact on consumer opinion.
It seemed to me that the non-farming component of the Melplash Show throng either weren't that bothered one way or the other, or could see the logic of attacking bovine TB at source, however difficult or controversial that might be.
I don't think we've much to lose, in terms of support for British farming from the antis.