By John Thomson

As one talks to customers in the mart, it is difficult to avoid the subject of Brexit. Certainly, many of us voted to “leave”, and a majority of farmers certainly did so, but now we can only stand amazed at the complete shambles that our politicians, their civil servants and European counterparts have made of carrying out the voters` instructions.

Farming life revolves on a yearly basis and we need to plan well in advance but here we are, only four weeks from D Day and we have no idea what, if anything, will happen.

The possible outcomes are certainly not all good for agriculture and the effect on the sheep industry is very much in the forefront of the thoughts of all those involved with the business. We must hope for a reasonable outcome, given that there is strong European demand for our product and that our ability to remain competitive will be aided by the state of the pound.

In Scotland, Fergus Ewing is doing a good job in carrying the torch for farming against the more extreme environmental enthusiasms of some of his colleagues and it is good to see that QMS is launching a new marketing campaign for Scotch Beef and that they are promoting a fight-back in respect of the importance of meat in the diets of children.

This is certainly what farmers want to see QMS doing rather than them thinking up new hoops for us to jump through at each annual inspection. Let us hope that they, and we, can persuade a few more home customers to eat lamb and we will really be getting somewhere.

Finished cattle and sheep prices are at a rather disappointing level but stores remain strong with good cattle at our fortnightly Monday sales at Dumfries attracting a very full ringside of buyers.

The responsive nature of the auction mart system has greatly benefitted the prime sheep producer with many sellers returning to the ring with their product.

The prime cattle producer must wish that they, too, had continued some support for the live ring and those artificial impediments placed on live-sellers of cast cows, which are being dreamt up by the dairy companies, really need to be resisted strongly.

Despite all the uncertainties, the auction system remains in good heart and is the linchpin of the Scottish agricultural system.

Continued support of all farmers is greatly appreciated, and your auctioneer is there to help; give them a call.

John Thomson is Director at Dumfries Mart, a member of IAAS