Isn’t it great to see the lighter nights and mornings!

It’s so much more pleasant to go out to work in the daylight than to go out and come in in the dark. Fingers crossed the weather also seems to be improving. There’s nothing like a bit of heat and some sunshine to put a spring in your step. Roll on spring!

Now, I hate to mention the C-word (Christmas) in March, but this is relevant … honest. As Sainsburys producers, we get regular news bulletins about what’s going on up and down the country.

Our agricultural manager, Jo Lawrence, who is also a dairy farmer's daughter rounded off 2018 by working in her local Sainsbury’s store over Christmas. She was put on the meat, fish and poultry aisle, where not one day passed without her being asked about the sourcing of certain products and animal welfare standards.

With Jo’s experience and knowledge, a lot of customers got more than they bargained for as she could really explain the whys and wherefores, compared to some of her store colleagues. It reaffirmed to her that the Sainsbury's Dairy Development Group slogan, 'Dairy with a difference', means that the customer wants to know what we are doing to supply their food.

Personally, I think every milk processor supplying a supermarket should take a leaf out of Sainsbury's book and not just at Christmas. Get into those stores and tell the customer what we’re about and how we do it!

It’s a brilliant way of passing the message on and it's never been so vital we engage with the public. We have a responsibility to sell our industry and dispel the myths, lies and dammed lies that plague it.

Hands up who owns a cow brush? I read an article recently alluding to environmental and social enrichment forming standards in some farm assurance schemes. As promoting animal welfare moves up the agenda for milk buyers looking to promote high welfare practices to consumers, its significance is only likely to increase.

Enter the cow brush! We have three in our cubicle shed and I can do nothing but sign their praises. In particular, they help increase milk yields, reduce our disease burden and lessen damage to farm buildings, to name a few benefits. It’s not often you pass and there isn’t a cow having a good old scratch.

Research has proven that the natural behaviour of grooming contributes to a high level of farm animal welfare, can minimise stress and lead to more relaxed animals. I think there should be a human form of these brushes!

Earlier this month I had the privilege of writing the report for the Holstein UK Journal from Carlisle’s Borderway UK Dairy Expo. What a show it was. Many of Scotland’s and England’s foremost dairy farmers, exhibited some 368 top quality show animals, all vying for some of the £15,000 prize money.

This show, now in its eighth year, has gone from strength to strength and congratulations has to go Glyn Lucas and the rest of the Harrison and Hetherington team. If this show isn’t the best in the UK, it’s certainly up there as it strengthens itself in the British and global dairy industry scene.

Where would we be without the next generation? Organisers have specifically tailored this event to encourage young people to take part. The Dairy Youth Showmanship Championships and stockjudging classes inspire young breeders and attract dozens from across the UK and Europe.

There were 60 entries in the showmanship competition and, wow!, Alison Hunter brought the overall title back to Scotland against strong opposition. Not content with that, though, she also brought home the reserve champion Jersey award. There were, of course, other notable wins for Scottish exhibitors, who held their own against stiff competition, notably Robbie and Margo Scott.

While showing isn’t for everybody – it takes a huge amount of time, commitment and dedication, not to mention the cost – but winning adds to the reputation of your herd and makes your livestock more valuable in the marketplace. Keep up the good work guys.

I had hoped that as I wrote this, we would be on the edge of leaving the EU. Like it or loathe it, we voted out and that’s what we should be doing. I cannot believe we, as a nation, voted this bunch of inept numpties into parliament. Far too many of them are playing political games for their own self-gratification. Mind you if any more of them resign there’ll be none of them left anyway!

Calls for another referendum have been mooted, but what would happen if we did have another vote and the outcome was the same? Yip, back to square one! We live in a democracy, we were given the right to vote and we voted out. Does that mean every time we don’t get what we want, we chuck the toys out the pram and demand a re-run?

Apart from anything this has already cost millions and millions of pounds. Think what that money could have been spent on?

Along with many others, my interest in politics is seriously waning and any trust I had in MPs has all but disappeared. Goodness knows what will happen next, but then I’m not paid to know what’s next. All we can hope for is that it will be good for Scottish agriculture. Sadly, I’m not so sure, but let’s hope I’m proved wrong!

Finally, good luck to everyone in the UK team travelling to the Holstein European championship show, but especially to the Laird family, from Blyth Bridge, who are the sole Scottish representatives. Their Blythbridge Jessy D2Cou will be one of some 250 cows from 19 countries, so they'll be up against some hefty competition.

The show is taking place in Libramont and the UK will be represented not only by a team of cows, plus a youth team of Holstein Young Breeders, but also by two UK judges. Mark Nutsford is judging the Holstein classes, and Michael Halliwell is one of the judges in the youth competition – which just goes to show, for the moment we're all still part of Europe.