What a shame we aren’t blessed with more Waitrose and Aldi supermarkets in Scotland.

The chain has promised never to sell any food which doesn’t meet the UK’s high standards, branding any regression in future trade deals a ‘backwards step’. The top man, James Bailey, warned that failed attempts to protect food production standards in post-Brexit trade policy had caused immediate concern for farmers. But he reinforced the supermarket’s commitment to championing local produce and promised it would not be undermined by future trade deals.

Waitrose, in particular, has long advocated responsible practices and built a business based on a foundation of integrity, fairness, and innovation. How good is to hear they have no intention of deviating from those principles.

What a shame, some other supermarkets don’t feel compelled to follow suite. They still feel the need to put foreign products on their shelves, but let’s face it, that’s all about profit margin, not responsible practice.

Credit where credit due though – German retailers, Aldi, and Lidl, are leading the way on the amount of Scotch-branded beef and lamb on their shelves. The vast majority of their produce originated in Scotland, with the remainder being British. Shame on Asda, who remains the most disloyal, with Scotch Beef accounting for just 19% of the range and no Scotch Lamb.

I am in no doubt of the important and difficult task government has in securing our future trade relations following Brexit. However, any regression from the standards we have pioneered over the last 30 years, would be an unacceptable and backwards step.

We must continue to push government to put laws in place to prevent our standards being undermined by imported product. Milk producers on supermarket contracts, are continually being asked to jump through more and more stringent hoops.

One such hoop is to cut the extensive use of antibiotics. How, then, can anyone square this with the possibility of importing hormone-treated beef from America, where there is also considerable use of antibiotics. Not only would this seriously undermine public health, but could see UK farmers undercut in the inevitable price war that would come as a result of an imbalanced UK trade deal with the US. Why maintain high standards, to then import food produced to lower standards?

Europe is one of the largest dairy markets in the world and most of our dairy product exports currently go to the EU. That means we need to be able to export where the best opportunities are, whether to the EU or further afield, but we are relying on those negotiating on our behalf to obtain trade policies that ensure that dairy’s voice is heard and not sacrificed in any negotiations.

We play a significant role in the UK. There are currently 13,000 dairy farmers – 862 of these in Scotland – producing over 14bn litres of milk, worth nearly £9bn at wholesale level. I don’t want to labour too much on numbers, that’s boring, but 50,000 people are employed, both directly and in supporting industries. After that, 23,000 people are employed at processing sites.

We know consumers love their dairy … every day 96% of adults buy milk. Fingers crossed for a fair deal.

I don’t want to keep banging on about the proposal to introduce legislation to tackle issues in the dairy supply chain, in other words, fair contracts for all parties concerned. But too many farmers are either still unaware of this or, worse still, those who are aware of it aren’t acting on it, even though you can make your voice heard anonymously.

The UK Government, along with the devolved administrations, is seeking to end any unfair practices. Evidence gathered during the Groceries Code Adjudicator's 'Call for Evidence' in 2016 highlighted how unfair practices have persisted.

Proposals include an option to introduce a mandatory pricing mechanism between dairy farmers and processors and that negotiations take place in a clear and transparent way. To quote NFU milk committee chairman, Gary Mitchell, this is a once in a generation opportunity.

Since the milk marketing boards were sent to the history books, this proposed change in legislation could prove to be one of the most significant happenings in the dairy sector in our lifetime. While, I’m not suggesting for a minute that all farmers have poor relations with their processors, some are in a desperately poor position because of their contract and relationship with buyers.

This is your chance to have a say in the destiny of your businesses by contributing to the consultation. This represents your future. Read the union's background information on the topic and fill in the consultation questionnaire at https://consult.defra.gov.uk/agri-food-chain-directorate/contractual-relationships-in-the-uk-dairy-industry

It’s heartening to read in The SF that the number of fatal injuries in the agriculture, forestry and fishing sector had fallen to its lowest level on record. The dramatic drop from 13 to two, though, is still nothing to celebrate. These fatalities have affected two families.

Farming has the poorest safety record of any occupation in the UK because we take risks and see dangers, but do little, sometimes, to avoid them. The Farm Safety Foundation has urged farmers not to become complacent, highlighting that three children were killed on UK farms last month. Take safety seriously and help reduce the number of life changing accidents.

The charity RSABI has launched a campaign to attract 500 new businesses and individuals to join its supporter scheme. The Covid-19 pandemic has prevented it from holding the annual Great Glen Challenge event, which last year raised £53,000 to help people involved in Scottish agriculture who are in hardship.

In a bid to fill the gap in expected income, it has launched the #RSABI500 campaign to encourage regular giving to the charity. Economic uncertainties along with Brexit means demand for its services is likely to increase.

I would urge as many of you who can, to sign up as a supporter and help provide vital services. For just £2 per month you can make a real difference to someone struggling. There are individual, business, and corporate packages available.

On another topic – but one that has been prevalent this year – it’s sad to see AgriScot has become the latest victim of bad old Covid-19. However, I suppose it was inevitable really.

Having said that, rumours are circulating that next year’s Royal Highland Show could again be a casualty – that's not really an option. We have been assured it will be going ahead ... regulations permitted. Gossip does no one any good.