SCOTTISH FARMING may be 'looking down the barrel of a gun' in the shape of Brexit, but its best and brightest are already forging a future built on efficiency, innovation and, crucially, a willingness to change.

Speaking ahead of the National Farmers Union Scotland AGM in Glasgow this week, union president Andrew McCornick warned that the political paralysis that had gripped the UK since the vote to leave the EU was no excuse for Scotland's farmers to keep doing things the way they had always been done.

"Brexit is like an ATV bellied out in the glaur. We have no idea if we are facing deal, no deal, or some fudge in between," said Mr McCornick. "We are doing all we can to contribute to politicians' understanding of how a hard Brexit would affect our industry, and the wider food chain, but change is coming, and what we cannot do is sit back and wait for that to be imposed upon us."

At a macro level, Mr McCornick said that NFUS still stood 100% behind its 'Steps For Change' document laying out a practical route to a new agricultural policy for Scotland, which he described as 'still the most advanced model' on the political table anywhere in the UK. By contrast, he said that ScotGov's 'Stability and Simplicity' policy document was a 'delaying tactic' deployed until Scotland's share of the future agri-budget became clearer, and Michael Gove's various statements were too light on detail to rely upon.

"Give us a more credible alternative and we will not sniff at it," he stressed, "but until then, what the NFUS team has put together is the best plan out there so far."

But the most cause to be positive about the Scottish industry's future was to be found at individual farm level, said Mr McCornick, who highlighted the growing movement of innovators and mould-breakers taking a fresh look at the whole business of extracting a living from the land.

"A new model exists for Scottish farming already – it really is just people's willingness to adapt to it. We need to look to the people who are really sweating their assets, making the most out of what they have."

From Jamie Leslie growing sugar beet on Shetland – " he stepped out and made a difference!" – to the multi-purpose crofting of Lynn Cassells and Sandra Baer at Lynbreck near Grantown-on-Spey – "thinking so far out of the box that I don't think they even saw there was a box" – Mr McCornick was full of praise for the value of looking at the industry with fresh eyes, and said that the NFUS would continue to push such examples to the fore as an example to anyone who still thought it was OK just to 'sit back and bide their time'.

"It is no longer about doing things because that is the way they have always been done. It is about making a living, producing food, providing jobs and maintaining the environment – and if what you are currently doing isn't achieving that, you should be thinking about what you need to change."