Well we’ve had a few weeks now of being on ‘the other side’ of the EU, so to speak, but are we any clearer on what the future holds?

Really, we haven’t the foggiest. One thing we are clear on, though, is that the quality of food produced in the UK will remain at its current, second to none, level. The big worry is though, will we be left high and dry with lower quality and cheaper imports?

Things like dairy products produced to standards which would be illegal to produce here, chlorinated chicken and hormone-implanted American beef, to name just a few, cannot be allowed to cross the line.

Politicians are ready and willing to confirm they will maintain our standards. However, they’re not so forthcoming with their re-assurance of sub-standard imports, which leads me to ask the question, what planet is Tim Leunig from?

For those who haven’t heard what he said, the Treasury advisor thinks Britain doesn’t need farmers! He said last week: “The UK’s food sector isn’t critically important to the economy.”

That’s a barbaric comment that can surely only come from someone living in Cloud Cuckoo land. Or perhaps we should give him the benefit of the doubt and assume he’s just looking for publicity.

In case Mr Leunig isn’t keeping up with the news, can I remind him that the coronavirus has barely had any impact on Scotland, or for that matter the rest of the UK, yet. Nonetheless, people are panic buying and some supermarket shelves are already bare.

In my mind, that makes farmers even more critical than ever, not superfluous. If you’ve nothing good to say don’t say anything at all!

Speaking of food – I promise I’m not going to jump on the anti-vegan band wagon again – I only want to say (and it pains me greatly) they do have a voice because they’re good at publicising their cause and making people listen to them. As the saying goes, if you can’t beat them, join them.

I’m not suggesting for a minute you adopt the policies of these attention-seeking, insecure, narcissists, but that we promote our cause as well as, if not better, than them. For every point they get across, we need to get one across too.

All of us and our representative bodies, ie NFU Scotland (to which some of us pay large subscriptions to), AHDB et al, need to promote what we’re good at. We need to take ownership of our brand – we can’t expect someone else to tell our story.

Never forget, 71% of our beautiful countryside is managed by farmers. They provide food fare that is home-grown, nutritious and damn right thoroughly good for you.

Well done to Arla increasing its March milk price by 0.9p to 30.94p per litre. What a shame the other processors didn’t see fit to follow suit – in some cases they have even dropped the price.

The NFU’s milk committee chairman, Gary Mitchell, though, has said the announcement has raised some issues, namely, that some producers are receiving 20% more for their milk than their neighbours. That isn’t right – however, I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, those getting a higher price aren’t getting paid too much, the rest are getting paid too little.

Why do the processors do this? Because they can!

Scotland’s Rural College is urging dairy farmers to take part in a new study to help scientists better understand the spread of mycoplasma bovis. I, for one, am in.

Apologies if you’ve already heard my story, but if I can help other dairy farmers avoid this plight, I will. A few years ago, we had a number of calves developing what appeared to be straight-forward pneumonia.

Sadly, it was anything but straight-forward. Both myself and my husband dreaded going into the calf shed each morning for fear of what we would find. It was soul destroying to say the least. Metacam and Draxxin were having little, if any, impact and way too many calves were meeting their maker.

On our vet’s advice we sent three calves, one dead and two live to be tested at Perth. Mycoplasma was the outcome. Clinical signs can include pneumonia, middle ear disease and arthritis leading to reduced growth, while a unique feature is the absence of a cell wall, which means that some commonly used antibiotics, don’t work.

The pathogen is spread in a number of ways. The most common being direct contact with an infected animal. It’s also spread in the parlour, bedding and in feeding equipment, with evidence that milk and colostrum from infected cows is also a source. Semen from infected bulls has also been identified as a possible cause of spread.

In our case it was an automatic calf feeder. The feeder was dully ripped out and we replaced it with a milk taxi and calves are now housed in single pens for the first few weeks of life.

I hate tempting fate, but our calves have never been healthier. Not only have we reduced the risk of infection, but we can keep a closer eye on your calves for other issues. For example, if they leave some milk, or are running a temperature alarm bells immediately start ringing.

In my eyes these pens, from Solway Recycling, are the best thing since sliced bread. I’m not suggesting automatic feeders, though, that should be outlawed – they do a great job on some farms.

That neatly takes me onto my next argument. Tesco and perhaps some other supermarkets have banned keeping calves in single pens. Apparently, it’s anti-social, they can’t interact and they thrive better in company!

The pens we have allow the calves to see each other and touch noses. So, who makes up these rules? Is it people who have actual hands on experience who advocate how we should rear our animals? Sorry, but it’s not a case of one size fits all. Personally, I’d rather have a live anti-social calf than a dead social one!

The SRUC says the mycoplasma project will be of huge benefit to the industry, as it is currently unknown just how many farms have it and which are more at risk. Thankfully, we haven’t seen the return of this devastating disease since, and I hope we never do.

If you have had experience of it, please consider taking part in this year-long study which will help manage welfare. Look out for your flyer from the Scottish Dairy Hub, or on P39 of this issue, with details on how to get involved.

To round off, well done to the Sloan family, from Darnlaw, in Ayrshire, on winning the RABDF Gold Cup. The hard work, though, really begins now with an open day a certainty at Darnlaw some time this year. Looking forward to it already!