Sir, – after reading Pat Wilson's Farm, View column recently, it struck me that the concerns and gripes of Scotland’s farmers are eerily similar to those of American farmers in Nebraska, my home state.

Sure, the crops are different, the soil is different, the scale is smaller and, of course, the weather is different, but despite these significant differences, the problems facing agricultural producers in the modern era are largely one and the same. Low commodity prices, unpredictable trade links, unreliable government assistance, and changing expectations from consumers are problems faced by both Scottish and American farmers.

With a soft Brexit, or no Brexit looking increasingly likely, EU-US trade relations are more important than ever. The Trump administration is taking another whack at a free trade agreement with the EU, but many in the EU have been adamant that the agricultural sector is non-negotiable. Even in prospective post-Brexit trade talks with the US (even if leaving the customs union looks near to impossible), the British government has been concerned with incompatible 'American standards' on agriculture.

I’m not writing to set the record straight on genetically modified organisms (GMOs), but rather how we can level the playing field and create new growth opportunities for all farmers – all while preserving fair standards set by our respective sovereign nations. What American farmers want, much like many Scottish farmers, is simply to be able to support themselves financially so that they can keep what is left of the traditional family farm model.

The vast majority of American farmers have little interest in convincing European countries to adopt so called 'American standards.' American farmers simply want reduced trade barriers, including an elimination of tariffs, for EU market access.

The EU and Scotland can and should set its own reasonable quality standards, and American farmers should in turn respect such decisions and make their exports conform. At the same time, American farmers must be willing to open American markets to more EU goods, even if on our own set of unique standards.

Are there certain standards which both sides could and probably should, eliminate? Absolutely.

For example, many fine European cheeses are banned for export to the US because they are produced without pasteurisation. We could improve this situation by turning it into an issue of consumer labelling, thereby allowing all cheeses to compete and letting individual consumers decide.

While petty, or tit-for-tat trade barriers should be eliminated, those relating to serious food safety standards must and should be respected. Negotiations are necessary to hash out the details, and compromises must be fair – American farmers, much like Scottish farmers, would expect nothing less. However, how are our respective governments to conduct such negotiations? Seeing as both sides are already at a stalemate, it’s time for policymakers to get out of the way.

As Pat Wilson wrote about antibiotics, recently, government officials are increasingly out of step with the needs of farmers. This, I would say, is because the vast majority of government officials and policy makers have never worked on a farm in their life.

Trade agreements are written and negotiated by the Oxbridge-educated, few of whom know anything about agriculture. At the University of St Andrews (where I study), for example, I have yet to meet a fellow postgraduate student who could tell you the difference between barley and wheat, or who knows the production processes that sugar beet is used in.

I would suggest aiding our elected representatives by creating a transatlantic agricultural council of farmers, where Scottish farmers would travel to America to meet and speak with real farmers, and vice versa. Rather than focus on disagreements, they ought to strive for finding common ground – actions that both sides agree their governments could take in order to make farmers’ lives easier on both sides of the Atlantic.

The US and EU represent the largest economies in the world, so surely their respective agricultural woes could be eased with greater collaboration and co-operation. While American farmers may not agree with Scottish farmers on everything, I guarantee that they share your same gripes and miseries.

As a Nebraskan living in Scotland, I see incapable and inept governments on both sides of the Atlantic. Perhaps, it’s time to tell the regulators, the bureaucrats, and the politicians to hit the road – Scottish farmers ought to control their own destiny. Fiercely independent, self-sufficient, and hardy, Nebraska’s farmers and ranchers have endured with and without government assistance. Today, they are looking out into the world for fresh ideas and new customers.

Nicholas Oviatt

St Andrews,