Much has been written and spoken of late about the importance of Britain's farmers. They are the guardians of the countryside, the custodians of the landscapes of which we are so proud, and integral to the preservation of our wildlife.
We've said it, our readers have said it and the politicians have certainly said it – even though they frequently fail to match actions with those kind words.
In the summer, Prime Minister David Cameron himself heralded the country's farmers as the "backbone of Britain" and last week Environment Secretary Owen Paterson labelled them "our greatest environmentalists."
They are, of course, both absolutely right in their assertion, and our farmers deserve all the plaudits they get – and many more besides – for taking care of the countryside that we cherish so much.
But let's not forget the farmer's primary purpose: to produce food.
And today we announce a whole-hearted slap on the back, and the potential for a huge economic boost for West Country livestock farmers.
We know the far West peninsula's grasslands produce some of the finest livestock in the world – and the beef and lamb that comes from them is fit for any table.
Now, as we report today, from next year meat from the West Country can be sold under its own label.
This follows the success of a campaign to win Protected Geographical Indication (PGI) for the meat. It seems entirely fitting that during a five-month European Commission EU-wide consultation process, no opposition to the plans was received – at all. We are tempted to add, not a sausage, in fact.
The Commission will now prepare to register the names West Country Beef and West Country Lamb, so that the marketing can begin. Meat from the West Country can now take its rightful place alongside Welsh Lamb and Scottish Beef, among a long list of British and European foods that already enjoy similarly exalted status.
It is, of course, not before time and represents a huge opportunity for producers in the West Country. Meat South West, the organisation behind the PGI application, has every right to be delighted.
We congratulate them for their endeavours and determination to succeed in this initiative – and we applaud the producers who have given them such top quality products.