Most autumn work is now completed, the days are short and the farm workshop is a popular place.

Windy days mean there are fallen trees or branches to clear up, but it is a good time for machinery maintenance work.

For many arable farms a well deserved, long Christmas break awaits, but for the livestock keeper there will be fewer luxuries. Turkey producers face their busiest time of year. For others there will be no break as cows need milking, eggs need collecting and everything needs feeding.

It is with some sadness and reluctance that I return to my recent theme of anti-farmer discrimination. Farmers now form such a small percentage of the population that they are an easy target for anyone looking to blame someone, but recent press coverage suggesting the severe decline in hedgehog numbers is “probably due to agricultural pesticides” really is a sign of desperation. Even the British Hedgehog Preservation Society website admits badgers are the principal natural predator of hedgehogs. Does the press really have to appear so politically correct that they cannot mention that fewer badgers might lead to more hedgehogs?

I am not promoting a badger cull to help the hedgehog, but specifically protecting certain species always leads to an imbalance and there is no doubt that legislation to protect the badger has significantly increased their numbers and that has coincided with a dramatic drop in the hedgehog population. Pure coincidence? Maybe.

Farming subsidies are now designed to protect the environment rather than increase food production.

Farmers generally have embraced the idea of habitat and wildlife conservation. Many have accepted the quite onerous rules associated with some of the schemes, realising it is in everyone’s interest to protect our beautiful British countryside from the increasing threat of development and ever more intensive farming.

The recent announcement about new Countryside Stewardship rules goes beyond anything previously enacted. It insists recipients of grants must put up a billboard stating how much money has been received for the project! “Failure to display, or replace a lost or damaged board, will be subject to a penalty or recovery of grant payments.” Surely this will deter some people from entering the scheme altogether. This is yet another instance of discrimination against the farmer, purely because he is a farmer. Trains are not daubed with posters saying how much government subsidy the railways get; anyone receiving housing benefit doesn’t have to put up and maintain a billboard saying how much they receive; public service employees don’t walk around with a T-shirt advertising their cost to the exchequer, and nor should they. Why then farmers?