'Park keepers, 'butterfly farmers' and 'redundant farmers', were probably the phrases most often heard this week following the announcement of the direction that farm support will be taking south of the Border.

There was little surprise in this, given the 'public funds for public goods' rhetoric that has been bandied about by politicians since the start of Brexit (whenever that was ... it seems lost in the mists of time). But those mists have also brought an opaqueness to the counter argument that people also need to eat food.

There is a perversity in seemingly scaling back food production at a time when the world population is increasing at a rate of knots. While there might be cheap food around just now – of course, not produced to the standards that the industry has worked hard to put in place – there is a distinct likelihood that at some time in the future, it will become scarce.

Food security has been the basis of successful national confidence for millennia. That's not going to stop now – not matter what George Eustice says now – and so while Westminster fiddles with the very land that maintains a largely healthily fed nation, the hills and glens are burning with resentment.

Taking livestock off the hills and dales is NOT a cure for climate change. In fact, there is a solid argument that biodiversity will be much the poorer without cattle and sheep grazing permanent pasture.

While the plans for south of the Border are long on wind, there's little substance to them yet. What we do know is that farmers are being told they will lose all support in seven years time – ironic given the fable of seven years of plenty, followed by seven years of famine that will ravage the land.

But what of Scotland? We, too, have environmental concerns but there is every reason to hope that these can be addressed and food production maintained. Indeed, as James Porter points out on this page, there must be no compromise on production and all efforts engaged towards efficiency. The colour of efficiency is green – and that's not a bad slogan to be going on with.


The Scottish Farmer would like to thank all of our subscribers for their patience during the past couple of weeks when our postal system has let many people down by delivery problems.

We can only apologise for the inconvenience this has caused and we promise that we are taking every step we can to make sure this is put right.

Our readership is our most important asset and so once again can we thank you for your support. In a way, the many complaints that we have had have reassured us that you miss us when we're not there, but also serves to stiffen our resolve to fix it on your behalf.