I THINK even the most brave amongst us are a bit scared to say 'we need some rain ... badly', given the fact that at much the same stage last year we were crying out for rain. And, look at what happened after that!

At the risk of inviting a re-run, in some areas there is already a moisture deficit. Spring-sown barley yield is in danger of being compromised, while irrigators are out in potatoes.

For grass men, the weather has been ideal for the first cut for many dairy diets – but not so good for washing in the slurry that's been applied after.

But, this weather couldn't have been better for the big sheep industry event of the year, Scotsheep, at Ballantrae, on Wednesday.

Despite the many challenges facing it from Brexit and imports, Scotland's sheep industry remains a solid performer, and NSA Scotland have to be applauded for taking the ram by the horns by declaring that the output of Scottish sheep could be quadrupled to be a £1bn contributor to the national economy.

While that's a tough target to reach, the truth is we export a lot of lambs south for killing, by which time they lose the 'Scotch' label. Given the current price of sheep, it would be hard not to feel a little optimism but the caveat to that is (as Jim Brown alludes to on this page) high prices can lead to consumer resistance.

As with everything, if a balance can be found between prices and throughput, then a stable, even a growing industry, could be maintained. Getting that balance is the key and will need a concerted all-industry effort to achieve it.

With QMS' undoubted expertise, a will on the part of the government and the killing trade, there is no reason why NSA Scotland's optimistic view of the future cannot be attained. However, in a post-Brexit world, that balance will not be easy to achieve and it will be crucial to see what happens with exports to Europe once the dust settles.

However, for the short to medium term, our biggest export market remains south of the Border – whether it be to sell there, or to be slaughtered there and then exported.

Our 'Scotch' brand is a terrific asset, but maybe one that the industry as a whole has never really thought applied to lamb. To change that needs the big retailers to buy into the brand, which in turn would bring in the processors and we know that the sheep are already there.

But, perhaps a catalyst for the entire sheep industry could be a resurgence in the value of wool. In a world where plastic is drastic, surely it is time for the sustainability of wool to once again emerge as a significant player in the fibre market?