The latest soundings from Whitehall would indicate that the Government is toying with the idea of banning farmers from driving tractors and other items of agricultural equipment on some of the country’s arterial roads.

Such a suggestion would be laughable if its implications weren’t so serious for farmers the length and breadth of the UK.

Seemingly, the move can be justified on the basis that it would increase average traffic speeds by up to 10 miles per hour. This thinking has been further ‘encouraged’ by the Government’s plan to upgrade a number of ‘A’ roads to motorway status over the coming years.

To me, this is more evidence of the mandarins in Whitehall not having the faintest idea of the requirements of modern agriculture. The reality is that farmers must have access to the road network in order to get on with the more than valuable job of producing the food we all need to eat.

Gone are the days when farmers worked the single block of land left to them by their forefathers. Making a living today within production agriculture is all about farming on a relatively large scale and working multiple plots of land, which could well be many miles apart.

All of this, of course, is a direct consequence of consumers’ never-ending demand for cheap food. In order to make this a reality, farmers have had no option but to scale up the size of their operations.

So, given this reality, any suggestion from the Government to ban tractors from our roads represents the height of total madness.

I listened to a radio phone-in programme on this subject a few days ago. The level of public knowledge regarding the way that farmers go about their business today is truly shocking.

One person came on air and suggested that farmers regularly use their tractors to call in at the local shop or would use them as the mode of transport best suited for visits to the pub of an evening.

I know that some car users get frustrated if they get caught behind a tractor on the odd occasion. But to farmers’ eternal credit, they are the most considerate road users when out on the public highway.

In the vast majority of cases, they will pull in at an appropriate spot and let traffic that has built up behind them pass by.

Could the same be said for the many thousands of caravan enthusiasts, who block up our roads with their ever larger ‘mobile homes’ during the summer months as they strive to get to the holiday resorts of their choice? I don’t think so!

The suggestion that farm tractors should be banned from public roads is absolutely ridiculous. And the sooner the National Farmers’ Union (NFU) gets this idea kicked to touch the better.