SIR, – We’ve got used to presenters of country lifestyle TV programmes who talk unadulterated nonsense, but it was quite surprising to find Ewan McIlwraith among them.

He maybe thought that he was telling his YFC audience what they wanted to hear, but his reported call for the over-50 generation to stop blocking young farmers and leave the industry isn’t just ridiculous, it’s mince! But blaming the older generation for everything is the media’s default position, whether it’s for Brexit, the anti-independence vote or owning a property that’s worth more than they bought it for.

Maybe things are different in the media bubble, but in the real world people are leading longer, healthier lives and the retirement age is nearing 70. In the real world, farming is a job, albeit a badly paid 24/7 job with no holidays, no sick leave, hardly any time off and no gold-plated pension to look forward to.

Very few farmers can afford to retire in their 50s and for every farmer waiting until 60 to take over the farm, there others in their teens and 20s who find themselves suddenly pitched in at the deep end.

In the real world, farmers sell to the highest bidder, family farm businesses buy and amalgamate units, tenancies are snapped up by neighbouring farmers, vacant farms are taken back in hand by landowners fearful of the right-to-buy, and contract farming opportunities are offered to established farming outfits.

In the real world, Scotgov is pursuing policies which will see hundreds of thousands of acres taken out of agriculture and disappear forever under trees with new entrants pushed out to the unproductive margins, like the crofters of the clearances. There is no doubt whatsoever that there will be fewer farms and even fewer opportunities to farm.

That’s the real world. It’s getting harder for would-be farmers, but that’s not the fault of older generation farmers who have every right to make a living from farming.

Sally Williams had the right advice for any young farmer who is not happy with their lot. Get up and go. Apply your skill set to make the most of the opportunities that are available. The industry needs you.

Equally good advice came from Joyce Campbell, who urged YFs to question and challenge the establishment and insist that they are listened to. And maybe some day a way will be found to allow farmers to retire early with gold-plated pensions ... the same as TV presenters!

Maimie Paterson

Upper Auchenlay,