Sir, – With beef very much to the fore in The SF August 10 edition, readers were first told, 'Beef does not pay' – but considering farm gate and retail differentials, it must be paying someone!

No doubt some will say it does pay and anyway, who says it must pay? Show me the farmer who does not keep beef firstly because they like keeping cattle and being involved in the diversity of beef related activity. Show me the individual who does not keep horses, dogs or any other favoured beasts for similar reasons.

Farming is not compulsory. It is a privileged life choice for some and a social necessity for as many as possible within our less favoured areas.

Important point is, current beef industry does not pay, or rather appropriately reward society in general for its contribution to the industry.

Apparently, it is also 'Time to take action on UK beef crisis.'

Jim Walker’s fact-revealing diatribe did conclude that beef is indeed paying some along the supply chain and I wish him well toward achieving balance on that score.

However, the time to act positively on the Scottish beef industry was thwarted many moons ago and we are now reaping the consequences.

Beef was for centuries the cornerstone of fragile rural life throughout much of Scotland. Destroy the beef producing structure and you destroy human livelihood in the 85% of Scotland landmass largely dependent on it.

But no, the architects of our support systems preferred to think differently and consequently countless opportunities were lost by the lack of properly targeted support which was gained to allegedly support family farms and ultimately rural communities.

Opportunities in landholding for the well-being of rural communities is the key which was recklessly thrown to the wolves as landowners and expanding ambitious farmers exploited freedom to assume occupancy and support on multiple vacated, mainly previously tenanted farms.

Verbal bullying in denial of science and denouncement of others is no way forward. Without radical change to achieve the true potential of our beef industry’s contribution toward the betterment of life throughout Scotland, this key industry shall remain on the slippery slope toward global mediocrity.

An effective locking of horns between one cartel and another within the industry shall be merely a rocky patch on that inevitable slippery decline.

If government must continue to direct support toward the production of beef, government must ensure it maximises the societal benefit by so doing. On that point, it is indeed time to act on the beef industry.

Finally, on a positive note with a point and advice to be borne in mind throughout the industry, Patsy Hunter reported how hitting spec' is key to maximising margin in finishing cattle to meet current consumer demand.

Tom Gray

West Park,