DEFRA MINISTER Michael Gove made an unannounced appearance at Turriff Show, much to the chagrin of the National Sheep Association's Scottish chairman John Fyall, who noted that it was at least the third time this year that the pro-Brexit Tory had come to Scotland but failed to engage with its sheep farmers.

"The first I knew he was at Turriff was when he walked past," said Mr Fyall, who noted that Mr Gove's visit had, by accident or design, clashed with Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon's own announcement of new cash for promoting Scotch lamb.

"We have told Mr Gove that he needs to engage with the sheep industry – but instead he uses his time for these play school politics six months before Brexit. We've been looking for messages of confidence and we don't even get to meet with the man. We weren't just double booked, we weren't booked at all."

Mr Fyall noted that sheep farmers now planning for next spring's lamb crop still have no idea what sort of world those lambs would be marketed in.

"NSA Scotland has some of the most remote farming members in EU with the product most likely to be hit by Brexit – so seeing him turn up for an hour to do some gladhanding then leave without direct engagement with our sector is hugely disappointing."

Mr Gove did, however, meet with NFU Scotland at the event, and chief executive Scott Walker said afterwards: “Mr Gove was able to hear directly from farmers in the North-east and heard the actual problems they are facing and concerns they have going forward. It is important that he is getting a full view of the issues facing farmers across Britain, not just from those farming in the South-east of England.

"Coming away from the meeting I am in no doubt that Mr Gove will have a better understanding of the area and can hope that he bears it in mind in his future decision making," said Mr Walker. "NFU Scotland are glad to have a healthy and open dialogue with DEFRA and we will continue to wave the flag of Scottish agriculture in Westminster, Holyrood and Brussels.”