Traditionally, the farming headlines at this time of year are about the weather and more recently have been dominated by the Brexit saga.

Neither of these seems quite so important right now as the world is ravaged by Covid-19. The news is saturated with tales of tragedy from around the globe with a sprinkling of heart-warming stories where individuals or organisations have shown real courage or humanity to support or help others.

To be honest, self-isolation is relatively easy for many farmers at this time in any year. After the deluge of the autumn of 2019 and the first quarter of 2020, most arable farmers will be flat out planting crops in what should be pretty decent seed beds where winter crops should have been. Livestock farmers will be busy calving cows, and lambing is in full swing with all its’ usual fun and frolics, so staying at home is normal.

For the last 40-odd years, I mostly stopped socialising from the last rugby international in mid-March until the second Friday in May, which used to be the date for the Dumfries Rugby Club Dinner. Having been shut away for sis or seven weeks, boy, has there been some epic nights at Park Farm over the years to remember!

The scale of the human cost both in terms of the lives lost and businesses or livelihoods destroyed as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic is just too big to really grasp right now.

However, I am not one of those in the camp which believes (or at least pretends to believe), that we will 'come out of this mess stronger'. I just don’t buy that. To come out of something as disastrous as this ‘stronger’ implies that we were weak before it started. But that is simply not the case, certainly for most folk.

Thousands of businesses, which a month ago were well-run, efficient enterprises, will simply disappear, swept away by the tsunami of Covid-19. Many more will take years to recover.

Despite trillions of cash governments all over the world are throwing at this, the planet still faces the biggest economic crisis since the 1920s. The suffering for millions of individuals at that time has been well documented and so in spite of the terrible suffering of families losing loved ones, right now for most the worst is yet to come.

Most ordinary folk don’t have the luxury of being able to ‘defer’ a percentage of a fat-cat salary like the greedy Mr Dodson, of the SRU. Most ordinary folk can’t bleat about taking a £100,000 a week pay cut like the overpaid prima donnas of the English Football Premier League, who then try to defend the indefensible by claiming that because they pay tax on their ridiculous salaries, they should get away unscathed because that helps fund the NHS.

It is despicable and disgusting and sums up all that is wrong in our world!

But if that wasn’t bad enough, football clubs like Liverpool then go cap in hand to the Government and put their ordinary staff, not the prima donnas, onto the lifeline 'furlough' scheme. Then, under the weight of public opinion, backtrack from a selfish, self-centred decision.

It’s sickening that businesses can abuse schemes set up as a safety net for genuine hardship cases while still paying ‘those and such as those’ many thousands per week. A bit like Tesco reportedly getting £585m rates relief while planning to pay £900m shareholder dividend now and maybe a further £5bn later.

I have no problem with them paying shareholders, but, after the recent bumper sales they have had, they simply shouldn’t be eligible for any Government bail-out while most small retailers and suppliers struggle to survive.

I was furious and sickened in equal measure during FMD by similar behaviour. Having managed to secure a welfare scheme with reasonable compensation for farmers in desperate straits who needed to slaughter unaffected animals they couldn’t keep, I was horrified to hear of some folk exploiting this for their own benefit. They know who they were and so do I.

Fast forward 19 years almost to the day and neither should the general public forget these people. All exploiting this tragic, awful situation should be named and shamed.

Water and other utility companies have exploited customers for years and should get no support or sympathy – they should reap what they have sown.

Offshore utility investors like McQuarrie, the Chinese Sovereign Wealth Fund, the Abu Dhabi Investment Authority, Iberdrola, and their ilk, who have loaded these businesses with debt while raping them for obscene dividends, should be left to fail.

That brings us to our own industry. Some food processors and retailers just can’t help themselves, even in this kind of situation. Not a shred of humanity, not a shred of decency, not a shred of loyalty, not a shred of support for local producers or suppliers.

I refer to the shining example of Asda and Sainsbury, reported to have imported Polish beef from none other than ABP, of course. 

For once, could we not have expected something better from multiple retailers and suppliers? But no, the God of Mammon is much more important than supporting fellow suppliers and farmers. Then, of course, once they are caught red-handed again, out come all the usual old excuses of the balance of the carcase and other such bullshit, to try and excuse the inexcusable.

We’ve also had a real life insight into what a hard or no-deal Brexit might look like with the volatility of the sheep trade over the last few weeks. From record highs to no trade at all and then some kind of normal pricing all in the space of three weeks.

One thing you can be sure of though is that some will be making some serious money at the expense of others and it won’t just be the retailers or Irish meat barons.

Now we are leaving Europe, maybe ScotGov should change the rules for any support it gives to food processors under the Food Marketing and Processing Grant Scheme. Any grant awards in the future should only be paid to companies who support Scottish primary production and have a track record of loyalty, not a track record of shafting us at every opportunity.

Can any good come of this at all? Maybe, just maybe, at least for a while, farming and local food production may be valued a bit more. Food security can be raised up the political agenda but it will take an enormous effort for the message to stick. That’s why Scotland Food and Drink and QMS should be booking all the cheap TV advertising they can buy to put the benefits of buying local and support Scottish farmers and food producers. Shout it from the rooftops.

In the meantime it’s just as well we are distracted by prolapses, hanging lambs, calving jacks or seeders. At least there is something normal to concentrate on.

One thing is for sure. There is no way that this current lockdown is going to last for too long. Give it another two or three weeks and I believe the shackles will come off.

As someone said to me recently 'it’s better to die living than to live dying' and that sure sounds applicable now. In the meantime, stay safe.