BEEF farmers in Ireland are justifiably up in arms with their meat processing industry and have been systematically blockading them. Many are asking if the same things should be happening within these shores?

Being a bit more bolshie is a step which can be a double edged sword. On the one hand, you breathe life into a media campaign to show just how much the industry is hurting, while on the other, it can raise antagonistic attitudes back to suppliers from processors and retailers.

However, someone, somewhere is making big money out of the downturn in beef prices and it ain't the farmers. This industry is at breaking point and it is not outwith the bounds of possibilities that a blockade of Stranraer port – which is the sole Scottish entry point for Irish beef into the GB – could be an end result. However, the precautionary principle must apply and the last thing the industry wants to do at this point is to antagonise the end customer by causing empty supermarket shelves.

Government can help this process. It doesn't have to throw money at the industry, just some time. There's a need to knock some heads together and tell them the truth about what will happen to supplies should the production of beef remain as unprofitable as it is. And, perhaps, there is a need to be more rigorous in ensuring that all is above board at the point of entry for imports into the UK. That's what the French would do.

The suspicion is that processors and retailers have colluded to imply that Brexit, veganism, climate change worries etc are to blame for a drop in farm gate prices. That's merely a smokescreen which allows margins to be widened in favour of everyone in the business of putting beef on a plate – except the farmer.

Collectively – from politics to producers – we are all to blame for these dire circumstances. We allowed our beef industry to be taken over by Irish meat processors who, at this moment in time seem more relaxed at making money in the short-term, than supporting long-term sustainability; we allowed the Scottish premium to be eroded to be almost negligible; and we are allowing supermarkets to squeeze out the free enterprise that the auction system delivers.

Fergus Ewing is meeting with many from the beef industry in Stirling, on Monday. If you care about your beef industry, then be there!

Dairy crunch

CRUNCH time is approaching for the farmers on Arran and Kintyre who produce milk. The creamery on Arran is already closed and dairy farmers will have their milk collected as usual until September for off-loading onto the mainland – thereafter, they will have to pay a punitive haulage charge. We fear, it will prove too much for them to bear.

Kintyre's farmers will also have the fine detail of a proposed buyout of their creamery. It's going to be a tough one and it would be tragedy if it became a millstone around the necks of the milk producers there. The flip side, is that it could work and many think that producing high-end cheeses or even yoghurt could be the way forward. The main thing is that producers progress as one ... this is no time for disparity.