TWO SUBJECTS dominate most conversations these days with farmers – Covid-19 and Brexit.

Sadly, the first is rearing its ugly worries again with what looks like a second wave around the world and unfortunately Scotland is not going to miss out, despite our First Minister’s efforts to curtail it.

Two of our best friends have been infected, so we are up to speed with its effects, which for them has been bad, but maybe less so than some others, as they are so far recovering with no hospital visits. Hopefully, that continues.

We also know of eight 20-plus-year-olds who have all tested positive, though six of them showed no visible symptoms, one had a moderate illness and the eighth is struggling to recover after 10 days. So, sadly, it appears that we are going to have Covid-19 around for the long haul.

That makes the next six months a worrying time for many businesses, causing redundancies, bankruptcies, house repossessions, mental health issues, increased debt, and many sleepless nights! There is only one way of initially curtailing its spread – wear a mask, keep away from other people, and avoid crowds.

The other hope is that they find a vaccine in the next few months or at the latest, early next year!

Brexit is also going to be a long haul! In fact, the ramifications of the vote last week (front page of last week's TSF) are going to be with us for decades.

I know many farmers voted to leave the EU, in the hope that we would get rid of many of the regulations that come out of Brussels. Well, I can tell you, if the stories that I am hearing from Westminster are even half as bad as predicted, then those who voted to leave will wish they were still in the EU.

The regulations that the three dreamers, Johnston, Gove, and Rees-Mog are inventing to change the farming support system before it’s termination by 2027, like 'Public money for public goods', plus their determination to import cheap food from anywhere in the world, does not bode well!

Short term it might work until the consuming public, whose affluence, all of my lifetime, has continued to increase, will demand quality, which we farmers continue to produce in this country. How we are going to be rewarded in the future without some form of support, which we have had since 1947, will depend on supply and demand.

This will mean greater volatility as we travel through the next decade. Interrupting Westminster’s plans to discontinue farm support could cause a referendum on Scotland’s future within the UK.

If this were to happen, we could end up an independent country, which begs the question, would farming still have some kind of support? I have no idea. Some of my fellow farmers are of the view that we should terminate support and let consumers pay the real price for their food.

If it is left to the clowns and dreamers at Westminster, then, that is what will happen!

Soon after you get this publication we will maybe have the results of the US election. I have been watching the run up to voting day on NCC news.

Now, we know that politicians worldwide are not immune from telling a few little white lies, or can be economical with the truth. This guy Trump is absolutely unbelievable with what comes from his lips. If it is dreamers we have in London, it is certainly a showman they have in US.

But you have to admire some aspects of this 74-year-old who appears to have beaten Covid-19 and has the energy of some people half his age. Mind you, I have a doctor friend who said, wait until we see what he is like when he comes off the steroids?

Staying with TV for a moment, I cannot avoid commenting on its most popular programme 'Our Yorkshire farm'. That couple are absolutely fantastic – Clive with his canny Yorkshire humour and Amanda, who takes everything in her stride, including coping with their nine children, never batting an eyelid, whether it is with the family or throwing ewes, and even a pony, into the back of her pick-up!

The whole family are a breath of fresh air showing how farming functions on their Yorkshire hill farm. One cannot calculate how much good they have done in telling the non-farming public about their everyday farming life in a language that everyone can understand. Good luck to them.

Thank goodness for the last half of September which allowed our countryside to change with all grass conserved and yellow fields all cleared of grain and straw. Potato harvesting is in full swing and should be coming to an end by the time you read this paper.

One thing which seems to me to have dramatically changed this year, is the colour of trees. In the space of a few days, they seem to have gone from being very green to all the burnished colours of autumn almost overnight. I expect we are about to see a mass shedding of leaves come the next windy few days and that will mean we are into winter – my least favourite season.

It is bull sale time, but with a difference too, but at least a sale did take place, albeit with no buzz or atmosphere with the highlight being the Weeton dispersal of Angus and the Eastfield reduction. Missing for the first time in 58 years, was Angus stalwart, Pat Lawson, who has been part of the Perth Bull Sales history. Hopefully, he will be back come spring.

I am hearing about another supermarket looking into a specific breed, just as Morrison’s did with Beef Shorthorns a few years ago, which certainly turned the fortunes of that breed. This time the whisper is Aldi and Galloways, but I am not sure if that includes Belties which is one of my three favourite breeds for flavour, taste and succulence of their steaks – the other two being Highlander and Stabiliser.

As I put pen to paper at the weekend, I had just taken a Beltie steak from the freezer for my BBQ tonight. Unfortunately, I am not allowed to have any friends in to join us as quite often happens in normal times!

It looks as if my prediction of a more stable beef price for the rest of the year, so far is holding, which is crucial if we are to have any beef industry left of any size in the future. This is so important for Scotland's single largest sector.

Without beef cattle our country will just become wild with every kind of weed and scrub imaginable, and only the best land being arable farmed. The dairy sector moves on with its continual decline, using less acres every year, but there is one bright spot at the moment, which is somewhat a mystery to everyone and that is the sheep sector.

No matter how I try, I cannot find anyone who can give me an answer as to why? The main response is – let’s hope the well-deserved better trade continues after January 1 – which, of course, is the great unknown.

The National Beef Association (NBA) has been testing the water regarding some changes ahead that they want to meet 'Gove’s 'Public money for public goods'! It has certainly commenced with a controversial start, to reduce the 30-month slaughter age to 27 months.

What the thoughts are for Northern Ireland, I do not know, because it is currently at 36 months before the value reduces. Every voice I hear tells me the NBA has got it wrong.

There is no doubt the headlines have created a massive backlash about the NBA’s idea for making the finishing of beef more efficient. If they want a positive response from farmers, it is much easier to yield it with a carrot instead of a stick.

We are given enough penalties at abattoirs right now for so-called out of spec' cattle, so we don't need more. The big question that most people have – is slaughter at a younger age going to improve the quality of our beef?

The weight reductions brought in recently has certainly damaged quality, particularly for the larger continental breeds and with the industry moving more to natives, the need for any change in either slaughter age or weight is questionable. Some would say totally unnecessary.