SIR, – Michael Gove did himself no favours at all by refusing to speak to the Scottish farming press during his visit to the bull sales.

It was a poorly-timed error of judgement, contrasting unfavourably with the double-page Fergus Ewing interview in last week's issue of The SF. Maybe they don’t get The SF in Westminster and it has recently become a rarity in Dunblane Tesco too!

Whatever his reasons, his refusal to engage with Scottish farming journalists was ill-judged and petty and we are entitled to better.

Fergus Ewing used his interview as any politician would, to have a pop at Gove, but we didn’t learn much about him that we didn’t know before. The CabSec likes the idea of ‘champions’.

They’re popping up everywhere and he pronounced himself champion of hill farming. I am not too sure that the sheep farmer currently being forced to gather ewe hoggs off snow-bound Argyll hills for a hogg scheme count would agree with him, but nobody’s perfect.

What the CabSec omitted to mention was his other role as champion of forestry, one of two elephants in the room. Landowners are being paid handsomely to plant trees. Public money is being poured into private assets and once again the big estates are set to be the main beneficiaries.

More trees inevitably means fewer hill farms, fewer sheep, fewer shepherds, fewer jobs. Sheep and large-scale afforestation are incompatible, but the hill farmers’ champion did not disclose how he proposes to square that particular circle.

The other elephant in the room was ScotGov’s post-Brexit plans for farming. Politicians are working themselves into a fearful lather about power-grabs and returning powers over 'ag and fish', but nothing is forthcoming about what they plan to do with those powers.

Please! – not the feeble excuse that planning is impossible without knowing what Westminster will do. Nothing is ever certain, except death and rising taxes, so most of us arriving at a major crossroads in our lives will plan for the most likely outcomes for the most likely scenarios.

Presumably, ScotGov has not adopted the David Cameron ‘do-nothing’ model of forward planning so what are they thinking? Is there a Plan A and a Plan B? Will farming be supported? Will it be the same as the environment-centred Gove model? What does the CabSec have in mind?

In just over a year we’ll be out of the CAP. What then? We should be told.

Maimie Paterson

Upper Auchenlay,