Let’s start with the bad news – with Westminster now having sold Scottish fishermen down the river (pardon the pun), I am predicting that agriculture will be the next to be sacrificed.

That will be in a desperate attempt to rescue some kind of botched up agreement with the EU 27 – that is, if the divorce actually takes place – as I am not convinced they can find a way to solve the Irish situation without being part of the single market or the customs union and still have an open Border.

To further complicate the issue, some ill-informed people in London are still wanting to ban live shipments of cattle in both directions, not to mention the lunacy of what they want to do with our Scottish islands, where some ferry journeys can take up to seven hours. Do they want the islanders to swim them across to the mainland, rather than on a ship?

If this country could just run out of food for a week, then we would see what the do-gooders would have to say then.

Two weeks ago we hosted 28 USA students from Iowa University and lunched them on Stabiliser steaks. In a few weeks time, they will all be qualified as vets but three of them were already qualified as carcase graders in US abattoirs, plus two nutritionists.

They had been in England for 12 days and a full week in Scotland visiting many different types of farms. Having discussed the grading system in the south and at my Farm View colleague, John Elliot’s, as soon as the subject of cattle grading in abattoirs in this country was mentioned, the discussion could have filled all of this article and more.

They described the EUROP grid as ‘unbelievable’, with the inevitable question being – why on earth does the EU grade cattle like that? I answered as best I could by explaining that back in 1982 the emphasis was to breed cattle for maximum yield for intervention.

I wish the top 10 or so processors in Scotland could have been at the discussion, when these US graders asked so many questions and gave their views on the world beef situation.

As a contrast in size to Indiana and other American states, one lad told us he worked in an abattoir where they slaughtered more cattle in a day than we kill in Scotland in a week. Another was close to an auction market where they started at 8am to sell 6000 cattle through the ring and finish at 2pm.

The use of hormones and GM crops in the States and world-wide, caused much discussion. I wish Nicola Sturgeon had been there to defend the stance the SNP has taken on both hormones and GM technology.

It is certainly going to be interesting if we leave the EU as to how these issues are going to ensue, as I am sure Westminster will open the door to wherever in the world it can source food cheaply.

The US will almost certainly to be one of the first to agree a deal for their beef and grain to enter the UK, regardless of whether it is hormone-free or GM food!

Having been in the States and Canada many times, I have to admit their beef is excellent because the majority is either Stabiliser, composite, or balancer genetics, which are all largely based on Aberdeen-Angus, South Devon, Simmental or Hereford.

The real worry for the future of our beef industry is how can we compete with their much more efficient structures, especially in terms of scale and lower costs of production.

I have mentioned before about the lady in Alberta with 500 Stabiliser cows and her only assistance being two horses and the contractor who baled her hay – virtually no buildings and no bedding costs. The reality is that both North and South America have the land and scale potential to almost feed the majority of the world.

Which means all this talk about new export markets that will be available after we leave the EU is dream world stuff. Scotch beef is a great brand, but any chance of being a world player is pie in the sky.

We are tiny by any standards and yes we have to export the vast majority of our beef, but the market for 90% plus of our product is to England and that is where all our exports should be being directed. That’s where a niche product should be going for a select market.

At the SAMW conference, the main concern was what can be done to halt the decline in suckler cow numbers, but also to increase the number of suckler herds.

There are only two routes – direct all financial support, that either the WTO, or EU/UK rules will allow, to the calf; or scrap the EUROP grid to be replaced by a simple three category grid. The US has ‘High’, ‘Average’ or ‘Prime’; Canada has ‘Single A’, ‘Double A’ or ‘Triple A’, or the Aussie equivalent.

We need a method of classifying our carcases that stops encouraging high cost cows. It may be that we are going to turn the clock right back. Only last week, I was with three traditional family butchers who were telling me the day of the Sunday roast is long gone. We now need mince or diced rumps and admitted they no longer required big back sides.

In my opinion, we are now at the stage where the EUROP scale is past its sell by date and we need to turn the discussion to a future grid and payment system that is fit for purpose in a changing world.

It may be that many suckler farmers are already ahead of the game. Take the change in almost every store market, with the most prominent being UA Stirling, where they started a native breed section at the start of their store sale, every three or four weeks.

Three years ago it took up about a quarter of the sale and now it is three-quarters. It seems much the same elsewhere.

I was on a suckler cow farm the other day where Continental bulls have been replaced by native sires. The obvious question was – why? The farmer said he was fed up spending half his nights calving cows and the next generation is looking for a simpler system!

On a sombre note, how high is the price of prime cattle going to be? Currently in the mid-380s p/kg, one abattoir owner told me the other day we would be at £4 by mid-June.

That reminded me of the conversation I had with the three butchers who all had hogget delivered the previous day. One said his two lambs cost him £380. His comment was that it would be the last lamb he would try and sell over the counter, simply because lamb was now too expensive compared to chicken or fish.

I am flagging up the fact that some things get too expensive for the consumer and they go elsewhere. I can’t finish without commenting on Ayr show which had its largest turnout for many years. I do not think I have seen so many cheery faces in our industry for a long time. It is amazing how a warm, dry spell of sunny weather can bring a smile to the faces of those of us who depend so much on the weather for our living.