BREXIT FATIGUE was very much in evidence on the opening day of the National Farmers Union Scotland AGM in Glasgow, where in the absence of any clear political conclusions about the biggest change facing Scottish farming in 70 years, attention focussed instead on the much more tangible threat posed to farmers by the various competitor species at large on Scottish farmland – most pressingly beavers and trees.

Up the hill, numerous delegates noted, generous grants were driving tree planting on the ground that would previously have been available to feed Scotland's hardier sheep breeds, while down in Tayside's precious arable margins, a runaway beaver population – and by that I mean a population that local observers think is triple even the most generous official estimates – was busy blocking field drains and turning low-lying fertile ground back to native bog via their river-raising dams.

The feeling from the floor of the AGM was that the union's herculean efforts to steer Westminster's Brexit juggernaut away from the cliff edge would all be for nought if Scotland's farmers didn't have any actual land left to farm.

Union president Andrew McCornick conceded this point in discussion after the conference's opening session, saying that while the union could not afford to take its foot off the Brexit gas, lest it not be in the room on the day when actual decisions finally get made, much of its membership had wearied of the wait, and had their minds on the here-and-now practicalities they were encountering at their march fences.

"These issues are bothering some people more than Brexit, because they are things that are already interfering with their ability to farm," said the south-west farmer, who had stressed in his official speech the need to change the political mindset that saw farming as an environmental problem, rather than a provider of solutions.

Farmers were the real environmentalists, he insisted, not the urban academics and pressure groups opening 'Pandora’s Box' with both authorised and unauthorised releases of species unfamiliar to the modern farmed landscape, and rigorous protections on others leading to runaway population growth.

“All this is a cost to industry, reducing output from farms and crops, individual business viability and ultimately Scotland’s economy,” he said. "The beavers are causing real damage, riverbanks are collapsing, there’s flooding and soil erosion. There must be a point when we can say enough is enough.”

Perthshire potato farmer Pete Grewar stood up to demand that the union make the beaver issue a priority, saying that it had not been taken seriously enough quickly enough in the union's upper echelons.

“This is the biggest issue for farmers in Strathmore, Strathearn and the whole Tay catchment, reducing our ability to produce food and go forward with our agricultural businesses," said Mr Grewar. “If the union doesn’t get this right, there are going to be serious ramifications for the environment, rural economy and every farmer in the country.”

Right on cue, guest speaker Kristoffer Moan, a farmer from Trondheim in Norway, took the stage to tell the assembled NFUS officeholders that he lost 16% of his lamb crop every year to predation by lynx and eagles, and exhort them to fight hard against predator reintroductions.

"Lynx would be a disaster for you – believe me, you do not want them allowed in," said Mr Moan, to enthusiastic applause from the floor.