WERE the wide-reaching and intelligently thought out proposals being made by the Suckler Beef Climate Group to be implemented across the board (see page 5) – including being used as a framework for other sectors of agriculture – then could this herald the end of the so-called slipper farmer?

It has been a hotly debated subject that has dogged the industry for many years – in fact, ever since headage-related criteria were removed from compliance – that far too many have been able to take from the 'system', without having to give much back in return. It's only plus point, would have been that it allowed some without proper pension provision, to retire with some dignity.

But, there are swathes of Scotland covered in rashes and ragwort, with hardly a beast on them, that will testify to how wrong it could be. It was galling for those who farmed their land well, that just across a fence could be someone who got the same payment per hectare as they did, but with scabby sheep and under-fed, and poorly-utilised grazing.

But this new way of thinking, as outlined in the Walker-led group's report, will certainly fulfil the oft-talked about criteria of 'public goods for public money'. If implemented – and there is every reason to believe that Rural Affairs Cabinet Secretary Fergus Ewing will do his damnedest to ensure that it is – then the apportionment of funds will not be tied to land holdings, or headage, but to a targetted approach to improving efficiency and care for the very basis of their farms, the soil.

It is a fact that the main driver for this has been the reality that we are about to leave the EU. With the removal of the comfort blanket of central funding for centrally-produced agricultural support schemes, has come a new urgency to produce something more specific to Scotland's needs.

Freed from the bindings of EU bureaucracy, it has been uplifting to see the good old Scottish intellect once more being allowed to thrive. While the debate on the finer points of the SBCG's report will no doubt be the subject of some heated discussion, within it lies a pathway to prosperity, not just for the farmers who take it to the max, but for the environment that surrounds it – all the way down to the minutiae of the micro-organisms that give soil life.

With legislators south of the Border intent on turning much of England into an agricultural wasteland with the aim of producing a butterfly heaven (we'll see where that takes them?) – it remains strategically and economically important for Scotland to be at least independent on this issue. The proportion of our GDP that is and could be further influenced by a thriving livestock industry is enormous.

The ultimate prize and, indeed, the intention of the setting up of this group in the first place, was to produce an industry fit for purpose, able to produce beef to standard that can be quantified and audited as environmentally friendly, and yet remain as an economic tour de force that lives up to the global brand name that is Scotch Beef.