It’s not been the weather for being ootside and looking in and luckily for me, I didn't have a lambing or calving shift to contend with – but I did get a chance to meet with some pretty spectacular dairy farmers recently.

Let’s call them the big coo herd club, because the membership likes to keep below the radar for obvious reasons that include reprisals from animal rights groups and ridicule from jealous fellow farmers. What was striking from this group was how utterly professional they were in their approach to their businesses.

Some of them had pretty huge operations that required constant management, especially on the finance side. A fraction of a pence either way on milk/inoputprices can make a huge difference to their bottom line, which means that constant adjustments need to be made elsewhere to balance the books ... if at all possible.

The lot of a dairy farmer can be a complex juggling act that requires a full attention down to even the smallest of details. The modern dairy cow is a fabulous creation of breeding, but most of all it demands the most advantageous conditions to make the most of this genetic potential. It is certainly not in any dairy farmer’s interest to devalue that potential by poor management – a happy cow, is a productive cow.

Meeting these farmers also highlighted to me something that I had always appreciated, but perhaps had forgotten about and that was the innate ability of farmers to adapt and change as challenges present themselves. I don’t know of any other industry where the variables are so diverse and demanding, not the least of which is the weather, and any response has to be almost immediate and effective.

Dare I say it, but modern dairy farming has become actually quite a ‘sexy’ business to be in and more should be done to make this a selling point to encourage young people into the industry. It’s no longer an industry where getting covered in skitter is obligatory.

In fact, many large dairy owners now appreciate that it pays to buy the brains to look after their cows to the best. That’s why dairy person (how modern am I!) salaries that can be north of £50k, plus a hoose and a vehicle, are available to those who are good at what they do ... and if that’s not a selling point on the job market, then what is.

It is also increasingly a business where IT skills are just as important as a muckle arm that can wield a graip. There will come a time when no one will need to get too mucky when milking cows, especially with robot milking and the like, so farmers now get a lot of the data they need to micro-manage things from a computer screen – in the same way that tractor drivers no longer need to drive straight to plough a decent furrow!.

Others have written about this in recent weeks and my heart goes out to those who have experienced the brunt of an atrocious spring. There is one thing for sure, if lamb is scarce these days, then some weather induced nightmares will come home to roost later this year.

Again, the professionalism stepped in and made sure that almost every lamb that could survive has done so because of the livestock keeper’s intervention. Out on the hill it has not been so easy and stories of 30, 40 and 50 lambs succumbing to poor weather overnight would make even the toughest of hearts quail.

Green whinge

So, it looks like the Scottish Greens are departing their role in shoring up a majority vote for the SNP in the Scottish Government. Did they fall, or were the Green zealots pushed deliberately into run away mode by a softening of policy on emissions by ScotGov?

I suspect the latter and that some of the thinking heads in the SNP could finally see through the idealism purported by the Greens who gave not even a nod as to whether the policies they supported had consideration of their effect on the economy, or on people’s bank accounts.

The likes of the SNP’s Fergus Ewing and Kate Forbes can see the very real dangers in becoming politically isolated by ideological crusades and ambition, and are looking at bringing more realism into policy making. Time someone stood up and stated the bleeding obvious that a country which has earnt itself a rich and ambitious economy can afford to buy into idealistic whims – but one which is faltering, simply cannot

In other words, time to concentrate on making Scotland’s economy great. Stop spending time, effort and money on policies for the benefit of minorities and concentrate on those that could make a real difference for the majority of us.

Few farmers will mourn the Green’s removal from Holyrood high office – if it happens?. As an industry we need to press for policy-making that gives tangible benefits to the economy and, as farming is a big part of that, its needs should be a priority.

Time will tell if last year’s gerrymandering by the Greens’ Lorna Slater that surrounded the licence for chemical bracken control, will continue and I’m sure the industry will be pushing for Asulox clearance to be back on the agenda. It is much needed.

As for me, how am I helping the Fletcher household economy? Well, I’m off to Carlisle for the monthly booze run, which is even more of a necessity now that Scottish Government has applied yet more punitive taxation on one of life’s pleasures. So, if the powers that be want a lesson on economics, then it is this: I spend £20 on diesel to get me to Carlisle, where I can save £200 on my beverage shopping list for the month. That clear enough?

As an addendum, I’d like to counter the claim that ScotGov’s booze tax is all about ‘saving lives and making people healthier’. All it has done so far is to push people into taking drugs – which many tell me are far cheaper than alcohol. That doesn’t seem to be sound policy to me!