As Brexit continues to dominate the national headlines, there’s a feeling of nervousness filtering through the farming community into our mart at Lanark – and I guess it's the same throughout the country.

With the deadline for leaving Europe looming and absolutely no clarity on how this will impact the agricultural industry, who knows what is going to happen in the coming months? No one knows what to expect, even Theresa May doesn’t seem to know. No wonder many of our clients tell us future planning is impossible!

The current political climate, however, is a good reminder that farming is a fickle industry, dependant on so many factors outside of our control, with Brexit just another one of these, albeit a fairly significant one.

Another significant factor we’re still suffering the hangover from is last year’s weather, which has impacted massively on the cost of keep and which directly impacts on trade through the ring.

Store cattle and fat cattle have been well back this year but we hope to see prices rising in the next month or so as the nights become longer and grazing more readily available. Fodder is still dear, though and with Europe also having a dry summer, the cost of importing feedstuffs is a considerable factor.

Nevertheless, straw prices have started to come down and we expect to see things settling by around March/April time in the south first and then up here.

The volume of cast cows being culled has been high as a result of such high feed prices, and we're seeing farmers being ruthless with underperforming animals to protect their limited keep. It’s at times like this that we are proud of the vital part we play in the rural economy as it’s crucial to remember the value of the market system.

Selling through the ring ensures prices are set by the many, rather than the few. It's worth remembering that as soon as prices are set by 'the few', they will inevitably fall and everyone will lose. Putting stock through the livestock auction network is the most transparent way to get the fairest prices for stock.

As I’m always being told by our customers, there are no secrets at auction.