By Tom Story, livestock auctioneer at Harrison and Hetherington, and a member of IAAS

There have been mixed reactions across the farming community this week to the news that farmers and crofters are set to benefit from an £80 million convergence funding package.

The £80m is the first installment of a £160m package which the Scottish Government and other stakeholders have been campaigning for relating to historic problems with EU Common Agricultural Policy funding.

Between 2014 and 2020, CAP funding from the EU to the UK Government was not passed on to Scottish Farmers. While it will come as a welcome boost to those set to benefit from the first round of funding, namely those who farm marginal uplands, hill farms and island areas, there is a sense that this is not adequate to cover debts sustained over the period the funding was withheld.

The rural economy is being stretched to its limit and while there is arguably a case that the funding should have been distributed in one go, any cash injection is to be welcomed.

Among our industry, auctioneers are all too aware of how tight margins can be for farmers and we play our part in ensuring they get the best possible return for livestock. It’s been said time and time again but the bottom line is selling through the mart is the best way to keep livestock prices up.

At a time when it seems to be all doom and gloom, farmers can rely on their local mart to give them the best deal, return the fairest, most transparent price and collect their cash on the day. There’s not many industries which can give these guarantees.

In turbulent times, livestock auctioneers want nothing more than to support the agricultural industry and the best way we can do this is to encourage farmers to buy and sell through the ring.

The sector has enough to worry about with the constant uncertainty around Brexit but your local mart can provide a reassurance that is lacking elsewhere right now.

Tom Story is a livestock auctioneer at Harrison and Hetherington, a member of IAAS