While the rest of the country is preoccupied with last minute arrangements for Christmas, the National Farmers Union has chosen this particular moment of the season of goodwill to talk about … manure.
More specifically, it is railing against the implementation of the EU's nitrate directive, submitting 45 recommendations to Defra for alterations to the regime supposedly intended to reduce water pollution.
Amongst other things, the NFU is arguing that the directive is outdated, complaining that the changes will cost farmers £240 million just to store their slurry instead of getting rid of it on the land, yet this will only achieve a 0.5 to one percent reduction in nitrate leaching. This, they say, is hardly rational or good value for money.
But amongst their 45 recommendations is one which would better be addressed to Santa – which might explain the timing. The farmers want grants to pay to construct the thousands of new slurry tanks required.
At least the EU has some use it would seem - solving that awkward little problem of what Christmas gift to buy a farmer who has everything. But how do you gift-wrap a slurry tank?