Mad cows and Englishmen

I had to present my donkey farm paperwork today for the annual check at the Ministerio de Agricultura (devolved here to the autonomous Valencia Generalitat as “OCAPA”.)

The process is normally a two-hour wait for a twenty-minute paperwork session, so I went armed with a computer and USB stick (to access the internet and work online if possible) and a backup plan in case of no signal, to read the first half of Tolstoy’s “War & Peace.”

We have a new form to fill in this year, detailing how many kilos of donkey manure goes off the field each week, and where it goes: i.e. into storage for six months before being used on the fields, or off-site with collection, and where it goes when collected. Yes, that sort of paperwork… ūüôÉ

Well at the end of the interview, like any conversation in Spain these days, it turned to Brexit. What did I make of it all? Where to begin…? Ah. This is a Ministry of Agriculture official: start with Mad Cow Disease.


So, I began on a detailed summary of the Irish backstop and the movement of animals across the border, and how the EU had to guard against disease – particularly animal born disease – and the example of Mad Cow Disease was a good one. Then there was the possibility that social and political conflict could re-start if a border was introduced, and that would also damage the economy, though greatly please the old-time smugglers…. etc. etc.

His eyes glazed over, and for the first time I could see what it must be like to be the EU Chief Negotiator Michel Barnier.


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