I start on a subject most of us would probably rather forget about – the 20th anniversary of foot-and-mouth, which was so sensitively covered last week.

My counterpart last week, Jim Walker wrote here about the anguish and pain created by the outbreak. He thought after two decades he could talk about it with a degree of detachment. Not so!

Jim was NFU Scotland president at the time and he worked tirelessly to help bring it under control. I wasn’t at the coalface, so to speak, but remember it vividly, both as a farmer’s daughter and as a reporter at the time with the BBC in Glasgow.

The carnage was devastating and, in many cases, the pain of watching stock being relentlessly slaughtered was unbearable. Who couldn’t be touched by such tragedy? Jim’s article literally sent shivers down my spine.

The situation was getting out of control, but there was no plan in place to deal with it. Jim instigated the 3km pre-emptive cull process which, though brutal, was what brought the disease under control. It worked though and Scotland was disease-free within three months. The fallout, though, would last much longer.

I believed then and still do today that had Jim and Andrew Campbell, of Cuil, Castle Douglas – who was leader of Dumfries and Galloway Council at the time – not been at the forefront of what was going on, the outcome would have been very different. Both had an affinity with the situation and were well aware of the desolation.

This was, in no way, an anniversary to be celebrated, especially among those who experienced FMD first-hand. But if there’s anything we can take from it, it’s what we learned at the time and what contingency plans have been put in place should (God forbid) it ever happen again.

We will be in a better position to make sure it doesn’t have the chance to spread like wildfire as it did in 2001. Like Covid-19, if FMD ever returns, the country will need to be shut down immediately.

On a happier note, we do have something to celebrate! The dairy sector is to be brought under a new statutory code of conduct.

In other words, this new code should bring and end to unfair practices within the supply chain and redress the imbalance between producers and processors. Not since the deregulation of the milk marketing boards in the early 1990s will there have been a bigger shake-up .

To quote the editor, Ken Fletcher, 'for too long farmers have been at the bottom of the pile when it came to meaningful discussion on a fair price for milk ...'

This is by no means a new issue. For decades, we’ve been calling for a rebalancing of risk and reward in the supply chain.

And, unless you’ve had your head buried in the sand, you’ll be well aware of last year's 12-week national consultation seeking views on how contracts and relationships could be improved. Credit where credit’s due – 88% of producers responded to the consultation; the same can’t be said for the processors, just 2%!

One such producer was NFU Scotland's milk committee chairman, Gary Mitchell, who was instrumental in encouraging producers to respond to the consultation. He was worried the consultation would fall by the wayside, especially during the current situation of Covid-19 and Brexit.

Gary wanted Scottish dairy farmers to be able to produce milk in confidence and work with their processors without fear. He said the code had to help the whole sector – and yes, processors are being squeezed as well. I wonder whose squeezing them?

So to Brexit. We might have reached an 11th hour deal, but that certainly doesn’t mean we can rest on our laurels.

NFU president, Minette Batters, stressed the importance of accessing new markets for agricultural produce. True.

Trade is at the centre of the future of farming. Without trade – home or abroad – there’s no point in carrying on. And we have to make sure we hold government to its 2019 election manifesto commitment that it would not undermine farmers in the UK.

There is no reason why we can’t be ambitious with our export policy. We have, without a doubt, a reputation for producing some of the best food and drink in the world and the smallest carbon footprint in the world.

Our animal welfare and environmental standards are second to none. Therefore, we cannot allow the production of cheaper imports, produced at lower cost and to lower standards than ours.

It doesn’t bear thinking about the devastating effect this could have on rural communities whose livelihoods depend on being able to continue to trade – both at home and abroad.

There’s no doubt the road ahead will be a bumpy one, with significant challenges. We can stamp our feet as much as we like but we still won’t get everything we want.

But, as demand for high quality, sustainably produced food grows across the world, there is no reason why our agricultural and food industries should not continue to prosper.

If there’s anything positive to have come from Covid-19, it’s that public demand for Scottish produce has boomed. We need to hang onto that.

So the Royal Highland Show has decided to shelve most of its plans for a live 2021 event. I think deep down we all knew they were kidding themselves on that it would go ahead in June.

RHASS had been working closely with the Scottish Government in a bid to develop guidance that would allow them to hold it safely. When you consider the amount of people through the gates at Ingliston, it really was a bit of a non-starter!

It’s really very sad seeing the cancellation of all these large-scale events and agricultural shows. For many of us, shows are a lifeline – a chance to get out and meet people for a drink and a blether.

And if you’re like us, the Highland Show is your annual 'holiday' – a busman’s holiday, but a holiday none the less!

By the time June, 2022, comes around, three years will have passed without shows or social events. That’s a long time under any circumstances but even worse if you’re suffering from poor mental health.

Keep an eye on each other! Stay safe.

Before I sign off, I have to say I was heartened to learn I wasn’t the only one disgusted by the advert showing a son chastising his father for buying cow’s milk!

For anyone who hasn’t seen it, the father is putting the milk in the fridge, while all of a sudden, this snotty wee kid appears and speaks to him as if he has done something really awful!

I have to say it was his sneer that annoyed me more than him having a go at cow’s milk! Dairy farmers and farmers growing oats have reacted angrily and called on the Advertising Standards Authority to do something about it! More power to their elbow.