It is bad news that redundancies are happening at the former Scotbeef sites. An increasing percentage of the sector controlled by fewer companies is not good for beef and lamb farmers.

We could be left with only a husk of a business at Queenslie and Bridge of Allan after the Competition and Markets Authority investigation has finished, as staff leave and order numbers dwindle. If the investigation finds that the merger cannot go forward, the chances of a new buyer coming forward to breathe dynamism into the Scottish red meat trade is slim.

Cutting the number of buyers for cattle and sheep only tightens the screw on an already challenged sector. We need to ensure we have a supportive regulatory framework and get some government cash put back into the processing and marketing grants that have been halted by Holyrood. We need to nurture the small and medium-sized meat companies, so they have the opportunity to grow and broaden the buyers around the ring.

There might be too few abattoirs, but we have too many tag technologies. This week ScotEID published a 34-page report heralding Ultra High-Frequency tags as the solution to getting bovine EID off the ground. It has nearly been 25 years since the idea of electronic tags was first muted for cattle, and we are still no further forward.

READ MORE: Redundancies at the former Scotbeef business

Think how far the mobile phone in your pocket has changed in that period. UHF might be seen as the solution for Scotland but if England, along with the rest of the world, goes down the Low Frequency route, we could end up in a bind. One thing is for sure, with a lot of money at stake for manufacturers, the tag companies are keen to gain the government’s ear.

Whilst EID might be taking decades to roll out, the government is looking to rush through export rules before December without telling farmers what they need to do. Assured animals will require no extra paperwork, but for the thousands of non-assured sheep traded every week, we could be heading for a right mess in the run-up to Christmas. Pallets of hides and offal need to be signed off by an official vet who needs an audit trail to prove all product is compliant. If one kidney or skin does not have the paperwork then the whole load could be ruined.

The long-term solution for the issue must be to agree equivalence in animal disease standards so that non-assured stock is not persecuted. Understandably the EU is nervous about taking in meat from third countries which may have a history of diseases like foot and mouth, but our UK controls are rigorous so a simpler solution needs to be found.

Worryingly, as we know with splitting lamb carcases, if there is an excuse to cut the price, the farmer too often bears the brunt.