It goes without saying and it's been said before, but you cannot get away from the fact that we are still living in very strange and unprecedented times.

I don’t know about you, but I’m fed up now! Farmers are used to isolating, especially at this time of year, but quite frankly the novelty (if I can call it that) has worn off.

At least we have a farm to run about on, I can’t imagine how life must be on the 12th floor of a high rise! But to further compound the situation, the Scottish Government and the UK government are singing from different hymn sheets.

Not only is it frustrating, but it’s confusing too. Our politicians need to work together – at least for now.

I, as I’m sure you did, welcomed the fact that UK farming unions, RABDF, Dairy UK and the Provision Trade Federation, have written to the government calling for a targeted grant scheme for affected farmers.

Defra Secretary, George Eustice, said he heard loud and clear, dairy farmers’ concerns and the Government is further suspending competition rules law to allow us to work together on some of the most pressing challenges.

He is also urging farm businesses to access loans that are available from banks to support them in this period. That is all well and good and the first year may be free with payments at 2.5% thereafter, but these loans still need to be paid back at some time.

Already, around a quarter of the dairy industry has been affected within just a matter of weeks, but it’s exceptionally tough out there and very, very few will not adversely be affected by this in the coming months.

It goes without saying, some farmers will be worse off than others. Some are unable to pay feed bills and are having to sell cows. Yes, that will bring money in, in the short term, but how much of a market is there when most of us have been told to cut production.

Your average cow is likely to be worth less in the current climate. Not only do we need action now, but we need to look at the medium and longer-term future of, not only the dairy sector, but all sectors of agriculture.

Mr Eustice’s counterpart in Holyrood, Fergus Ewing, has made it clear Scottish dairy farmers, who have been holding out hope of a support package similar to that announced for their English and Welsh counterparts, look set to be disappointed.

The Rural Economy Secretary said he didn’t believe the proposed aid package would be effective here and that details of the package still weren’t clear.

I have spoken to the NFU’s milk committee chairman, Gary Mitchell, who confirmed the committee had met in private with Mr Ewing to discuss the impact of Covid-19 on the sector. Gary said they were desperately keen to help dairy farmers but the way the scheme, south of the Border, has been put together needed a serious amount of clarification. What is clear is that the worst affected are helped.

Having said that, if you look at the finite detail – or should I say the lack of it – this proposed aid package is just that … a proposal. It’s not available here because it’s not available in England either.

At the time of writing, anyone going online to try and access it is likely to be greeted with 'the new hardship fund announced recently can be accessed by eligible dairy farmers in England. More detail on the fund will be issued in due course'.

Those eligible must have lost more than 25% of their income over April and May due to coronavirus disruptions.

I am sceptical about MPs and what they say and what they do, they can be two completely different things. Not that long-ago farmers and food producers were being hailed heroes for keeping the country fed, yet last week, when MPs had the chance to put their money where their mouth was, the failed to deliver!

The Agricultural Bill was passed to the Lords without an amendment to prevent imported food, produced to an inferior animal welfare standard, than those set here. Will said MPs be able to sleep at night? I suspect so!

How sad is it to see the widening gap between the highest and lowest milk prices paid across the country? The gap last year was more than double that of 2018, according to AHDB.

Muller’s price for suppliers to Marks and Spencer sits at the top of the league, around 33.5p per litre. At the bottom is Pensworth at 24.09ppl – that’s a staggering difference of almost 10p!

The only consolation is that the gap isn’t the largest ever seen. In 2015, it was almost 14ppl.

This gap gives me the excuse to bang on again about the importance of the upcoming consultation paper on milk contracts – which, all being well, will be released in the not too distant future.

We need to accept, though, that long-standing issues with contracts need to be looked at in a way that works for both sides. We are not in the recovery position yet, but once we are the 12-week consultation will begin.

Defra will consult on regulations on dairy contracts between farmers and processors to address bargaining power, unfair contract terms, trust and transparency.

Unfair pressures on primary producers, through unfavourable contract terms, delayed payments, and short notice of price reductions, limit the ability of farmers to budget and manage price volatility.

An all out push for regulatory change gives an opportunity for farmers and processors to resolve these concerns.

We could look at what happens in Spain, for instance. Processors, farmers and unions form an 'inter-branch' organisation and negotiate until all parties agree. This model has been tried and tested.

It works well within our fruit and veg industry. The difficulty is persuading individual farmers to depart from an existing system where many are happy with the relationship they have with processors.

You must have your say on the future of your contract. If you don’t put your point across, you don’t have the right to complain about the outcome. This is a challenge like no other before.

It’s yours and your families' futures and probably the most important decision you will have had to make since deregulation of the milk boards more than quarter a century ago.

To finish on a lighter note and some good news. A £1m campaign has been launched in response to the milk market turmoil caused by Covid-19.

It will highlight the important role fresh milk and dairy produce plays during lockdown. We have had weeks of severe market disruption in an already volatile market – processors have dropped prices; payments have been deferred and farmers have been asked to produce less milk.

It’s estimated that more than 5000 farmers have been impacted by price cuts calculated to the tune of £20m for April and May. The campaign, jointly funded by AHDB, Dairy UK and the devolved governments, will focus on lifting retail sales by driving households 'hot drink occasions'.

Look out for it in the coming weeks.