ITS' BEEN a year of uncertainty for many sections of agriculture, but for arable farmers it's getting to that crunch time when all the work comes together in about two months. Harvest time!

But the uncertainty for this sector is exacerbated by the very real prospect of a no-deal Brexit. This would inject more uncertainty into a market already plagued by uncertainty. An uncertain catalogue of uncertainties!

What better time, then, for the much vaunted Scotch whisky industry to get right behind the farmers who provide much of its engine room commodities. Yes, we know that there is a cloud of precariousness hanging over their market too, but what a selling point it would be if they were to adopt the same philosophy as Scotch Beef did when it applied for and gained EU 'Protected Geographic Indication' – that of being bred, fed, reared and slaughtered in Scotland.

It's a bit of an aberration that the Scotch Whisky Association argued that it should not have to use home sourced grain for it to gain the same PGI status for Scotch Whisky. Provenance is a word much used by the distillers to tell its customers why it is important that they choose their particular products – so why no mention of the provenance of the barley/wheat that helped produce it?

Worse still, then, that Brexit-induced horse trading and a predicted shortage of wheat this harvest, could conspire to make distillers' accountants turn a beady eye to using imported corn (maize) as a replacement for wheat. More 'whiskey', than 'whisky'?

Could it be that the air of looking after our own, engendered by lockdown and the Covid-19 pandemic will conspire to encourage government to put some political pressure on the whisky/brewing industry to not just look at the commodity, but look after the community?

Living up to the adage

The Scottish Farmer's Retail Radar has really caught the imagination of those beef producers who have been under the cosh from some of the more shady dealings of the retail and processing trade.

In this, we have tried to show up those retailers who seemed quite happy to receive considerable Government support during Covid-19 lockdown, despite having record sales and profits, yet have shown unreliability in backing our own industry.

Well, maybe this pressure is beginning to pay off. We hear that Tesco – which has so far shown far more loyalty only to Irish/Polish beef and New Zealand lamb – is beginning to realise that backing Scotch and British is a more fundamental way of ensuring that reliable and safe meat products adorn their shelves when and where they need them.

Again, when we're 'All in this together' it might just pay to live up to the adage!