Looking forward to the challenges facing the land-based sector in the year ahead, it is interesting to look back to the fact that the inspiration for the founders of the CLA was a pamphlet written some 110 years ago by Algernon Turnor titled ‘Land and the Social Problem’.

Turner, who been a private Secretary to Benjamin Disraeli when he was Prime Minister, argued that British agriculture was going through a time of huge change which rather strikes a chord.

The political backdrop at that time was a debate about whether or not Britain should pursue more free trade agreements with countries in far-flung regions or whether we should integrate more closely with our European partners.

At the same time as Algernon was making the case for this period of change, he also criticised politicians for their failure to provide sufficient leadership when it came to charting a clear course for those who own, manage and work on the land.

The question then is whether nothing has changed – or perhaps whether everything has changed and we are simply looking down the other end of the telescope.

Speaking at the CLA’s annual conference at the end of 2017, Secretary of State Michael Gove, highlighted the issue of exports in the food and drink market.

Currently those exports are worth £20bn a year with a further £110bn traded annually in the domestic market.

Gove’s challenge to the industry for the year ahead was to redouble its efforts to send great British produce abroad – something we in this part of the world are well placed to lead. But, the key factor that will weigh heavily on forward policy will be environmental issues.

There was no mistaking Gove’s commitment towards the environment and he spoke with passion about the perilous state of the nation’s soil, the decline over many years of farmland bird populations and the loss of flora and habitats.

These are things, he said, that the nation cares about, has invested in through agri-environment schemes and will continue to invest in - possibly increasingly in the future because protecting the environment was, he said, good for the economy, good for the countryside and good for tourism.

But the strongest message that rang right through the various speeches and presentations was a clear statement of confidence – of a commitment to investment and growth in land-based businesses an illustration that people believe there is a future in farming and land management – and that it can be profitable.

Happy New Year.