AN INDUSTRY fit to compete on a different level from the rest of the world is the bold aim of the new suckler beef cattle scheme.

And it is bold in many ways. For every calf that is saved, for every extra leaf that is grown and kilo of beef produced more quickly, then the industry can hold its head above the parapet without fear of bombardment from missiles thrown at it by everyone from desktop warriors, to academics (who should know better) and from brain-washed 'sheep' on the topic of climate change.

We, in Scotland, have a tiny beef industry. However, we do have the 'big' brand name that is Scotch Beef. This ScotGov initiative could unlock the potential to make the most of that brand ... and live up to it. And deliver positive environmental benefits.

Commentators on this very page have bemoaned the fact that we no longer have a world class beef industry; that taste and credibility have long been sliced off it like the lard from an over-weight carcase. With the potential offered by this 'new' look at the industry, there is yet hope.

But, we are behind the ball-game. Others have cottoned on to this and some are (light?) years ahead. That is not to say that we do not have the ability not only to catch-up, but re-shape public perception of what the beef industry in Scotland, does for Scotland.

A new generation of beef farmers, attached to apps and recording devices that were only dreamt of 10 years ago, will play a major role in this. That is a good thing.

Listening to former NFUS president, Jim Walker and Rural Affairs CabSec Fergus Ewing, this week give their vision of how it can and should work, was like a breath of fresh air washing over an industry in need of life-saving resuscitation.

Carbon capture, soil health, genetics, feed efficiency are just some of the bullet points that will be addressed – and we are promised this will be done quickly. When Jim Walker said he did not want to be part of a 'talking shop that produced a fig leaf for doing nothing', you've got to believe it.

Brains will provide the pump priming for this bright new future, but the plans will turn to dust if there is no fuel to keep the pump running. That's why it will be important that ScotGov finds ways of implementing and assisting at least a proportion of the sensible ideas that will come out of this.

The last word should be that not only can the Scottish national beef herd be carbon neutral, but might even be seen as a carbon sink. Carbon credits have a value, you know – and maybe those so-called Hollywood legends that besmirched beef in recent TV interviews, will swallow their hypocrisy and some beef without fear of being 'uncool.' Now that would be 'cool'.