THE proposed changes which will restrict the ability of the UK to recruit seasonal workers' is a time-bomb that could backfire on the UK Government if it ever comes to pass. Surely common sense will have to apply?

The upshot is that the elderly will go uncared for, fruit and veg crops will be left rotting in fields and our much-vaunted food processing industry, which is the spearhead for the Scottish Government's ambitious plans to double food and drink exports to £30bn by 2030, will be squashed like an over-ripe fruit out of existence.

Holyrood, in this instance at least, sees the train coming up the track. It has proposed a singular visa scheme for Scotland in the hope that such a catastrophe can be averted. This is, however, not a devolved issue and will be the source of much rancour for months to come.

There is a good case here for the new Tory set-up in Scotland, now led by Jackson Carlaw and with a farmer's daughter, Rachael Hamilton, in the shadow agriculture and rural affairs seat, to show its mettle and make a difference by openly supporting the SNP Government's case for Scottish-only visas. Privately, a number of them do already.

There seems to be some woolly-headed notion in Westminster – as typified by under Secretary of State, Douglas Ross' performance at the NFUS agm and conference – that we can import more to fill the gap. That would leave a world-class fruit and veg industry in Scotland in tatters – and with everyone seemingly clamouring for 'plant-based' food, makes it an even dafter notion.

Put simply, our red meat industry needs transient labour like vets and slaughtermen; our fruit and veg industry is dependent on it for harvesting; and many other facets of the food production industry – even dairy farming – need the ability to call on such labour as and when required. Minimum wage threshholds, education and the ability to speak English just muddy the waters.


Prime stock

LEANER and fitter is the key theme for the red meat industry as we head to QMS' inaugural MEAT: The Future conference in Glasgow, next week.

Oh that the fatstock showing fraternity would catch up with this theme. There is nothing better than seeing a perfectly brought out beef specimen – exemplified by a nostalgic whiff from Smithfields past – but today we are seeing show cattle that are so far out of spec', that they might just as well be sold for cow beef to the export market.

Cattle for the showring don't necessarily need to hit current meat plants' spec' for lighter carcases. But they should at least show some recognition that things are changing. We are seeing heifers bought now for future showring success, that we will probably see again in two year's time. That's not right and not wise.