If something is worth fighting for, you have to do just that.

Last month, I talked about 2019 bringing the issue of milk contracts to the fore. These contracts are our future and are more important now than ever.

NFU Scotland has already highlighted the consultation on the introduction of mandatory milk contracts as a 'unique and tremendously significant' opportunity that is unlikely to be offered again in the lifetime of this generation of dairy farmers.

This prompted me to speak to the 'dairy arm' of NFUS and my understanding is this: Producers should be given the option to have their milk set at an agreed volume and price three months in advance. In other words, you will supply 300,000 litres per month and it will be at 'X' pence per litre.

It would be definitely be a win:win situation if the price fell during that period, however not so good if the price rose – but you can’t have your cake and eat it.

A lot of farmers are heavily borrowed and this would help build options. In fact, I have heard some banks are insisting on a three-month forecast of what’s likely to hit the bank. Wouldn’t it be great if we all had a crystal ball!

There’s a huge amount of capital, resources and of course stress in modern dairy farming, so we should be rewarded for efficiency and commitment.

Recent information showed some businesses consider long-term investment to be five years, may be stretching that to 10 at the most. In our industry, long-term means long-term – 20 to 40 years! We make these commitments because we want to; we’re passionate about what we do and the product we produce. If your business is run like a five-star hotel, all the better. You deserve to reap the benefits of it.

But, I’m told this consultation is more of an option, not a fight. It’s a discussion we need to have and it is hugely important all Scottish dairy farmers engage in it.

Dairy analyst, Chris Walkland, has criticised the farming union's position on contract regulation, accusing them of focusing too much on the relationship between processors and farmers, rather than the bigger picture. The NFUS' response, is that they are taking a ‘whole supply chain approach’.

Whatever you might think, I urge you once again to have your say. It won’t 'just happen'. You have something worth fighting for, so you have to do just that!

I was heartened earlier this week to learn that the future is looking rosier for our Kintyre counterparts. Last April, First Milk announced a devastating blow in their intention to sell off its creameries at Campbeltown and on Arran. This process has been on-going since then in a bid to secure a sustainable future for these two plants.

The good news it that progress is being made and First Milk have moved to a preferred bidder stage. Fingers crossed this can be brought to a successful conclusion, sooner rather than later.

The Scottish Holstein Club – capably chaired by none other than Robbie Duncan – has held its first meeting of the year. It was an interesting one with the visit of Lizzie Bonsall, the identification quality manager at Holstein UK. She is currently travelling round clubs in the UK informing us on why you should be a member.

For once, we learned we could actually save money rather than spend it. Well you still need to spend it to save it which I know is a bit of a contradiction in terms, but read on.

Last year, HUK launched the 'Approved Registered Cattle' (ARC) mark which provides full traceability of registered cattle to the industry. The integral tissue bank provides access to each animal’s DNA and can be called upon at any time.

This allows increased knowledge through genomic evaluation, parentage verification and health testing. HUK have teamed up with ear tag manufacturer, Caisley, to provide a simple yet tamper-proof tissue sampling system to its members.

The records will be accurately matched to ancestry, milk recording, classification and genetic data. Any animal, tissue tested at birth, will carry an ARC management mark on their ear tag. The benefits include easy access to further health and DNA testing, like genomics and BVD, providing a greater knowledge of the herd with which more informed breeding decisions can be made.

The BVD and DNA samples taken during tagging are held 'for life' so no more re-tests, or the need to provide hair samples. Large tags would normally cost £1.60 each, but you can buy them from HUK at £1.15; BVD tags are £5, HUK can sell them to us at £4. Anyone buying 100 tags would save £45.

Well done to Dumfries-shire farmer, Andrew McCornick, on being re-elected, unchallenged to the position of president of NFU Scotland. He has 'come back for more', having already led the union for two years.

Andrew is only too aware of the difficult and challenging times ahead, but he and his two vice-presidents have been given a clear mandate by members to represent them and to carry their message forward. The Brexit process has been protracted and frustrating but NFUS has been crystal clear about its priorities and mapped out its needs on a new agricultural policy for Scotland. I’m sure this top table team will have the vision to deliver on that.

I promised the editor that I would stay off the anti-vegan band wagon – well for now anyway. You just know there’s a 'but' coming, though, don’t you!

Thankfully, so-called 'Project Calf' hasn’t reached Scotland – apart from a little skirmish or two. This group has pulled together the exact locations of 9000 dairy farms in England and Wales on the pre-conception of exposing the atrocities of our industry.

Someone should educate the people on adding the word 'alleged'. If there’s a silver lining to this cloud, we can actually, proudly show how open and transparent’ we are about how we care for our cows – in other words, Project Calf will only encourage the industry to ‘showcase what we do best’. That, however, would be down to how the evidence was skewed!

What really bugs me though is farmers have been warned there is little legal chance of fighting back. It’s OK for them to harass, stop us from doing our jobs, intimidate us and in some cases frighten us. I’m well aware there is no trespass law in Scotland, so basically they can camp on our doorsteps and there’s not a damn thing we can do about it!

Would we get away with it if the boot was on the other foot?

On that note I urge everyone involved in the dairy industry to be proactive and united in the face of challenge.