AT A time when the 'Dig for victory' spirit was revived and when the nation was urged to beat Covid-19 by sticking together, it is galling that some of our partners in the food industry have put their own greed above that of supporting a united approach to filling the supermarket shelves.

Within the last week, we've had Polish beef dumped on the market, via Ireland; we've had milk processors urging farmers to dump milk in slurry tanks; and we've had fruit growers being told that their strawberries are 'too early' for some retailers still selling Spanish product. Not much sign of the 'We're backing British farmers' across the board, then, from some of the major retailers.

When you see supermarket shelves stripped of dairy products and yet the processing part of the milk industry is urging farmers – some of them in a rather heavy handed way – to throw milk away, we know that the food chain is broken. If any good comes out of this crisis, it should be that heads are knocked together to form a credible national food policy that gives every part of the food chain the ability to have its say and shape a future for all.

NFU Scotland's plea for retailers to play their full part in making home-produced food available in the first instance, rather than use imported produce as a foil to stab the industry in the back, should be listened to in the corridors of power.

If this nation – as in Scotland – wants to fulfil its ambition to grow its exports markets to £30bn by 2030, then we must have a sustainable, profitable and environmentally-audited farming industry to deliver the unique qualities that Scottish produce can have. It is high time that the profitability of agriculture was deemed to be just as important satisfying the greed of shareholders in the major retailing and processing parts of the chain, so that farmers can play a major role in delivering those ambitions.

The great hope in all of this is that consumers have recognised that the large multiples have not been able to deliver in times of crisis and that supporting smaller, more local producers and retailers is the way ahead. The good news is that farm shops that have been able to stay open or offer a delivery service have never been better supported. And long may that continue.

Champion show

WE MIGHT not have the Royal Highland Show to look forward to this year, but we do have The Scottish Farmer's virtual 'Champions of the Decade' show to whet your appetite until we all move out of isolation.

It's all quite simple. Our excellent photographs of champions from many of the Highland Show sheep, beef, dairy and horse lines spanning the last 10 years will be published in this newspaper for you to evaluate and then go on-line to vote for the breed champions. It will culminate in inter-breed winners ... so take a look at pages 12 and 13 to see what it's all about ...


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Thanks – and stay safe