I MAKE no apology for covering the same ground I covered in May – the industry’s status on carbon emissions!

We need to step up to the mark and stop those without a proper understanding of our industry blaming the whole problem on cattle. Yes, they’re contributors, but no they’re not entirely to blame!

Properly managed livestock can provide environmental benefits. Our future farming policy will create cleaner, greener landscapes, helping build towards the government’s net zero commitments.

It’s barbaric that some Government officials think the easy solution is to simply cull hundreds of thousands of cattle. Job done – problem solved! Not.

We already know UK ministers have been told to push for a public reduction in meat and dairy intake by 20% in the next 10 years if we’re to stay on track to meet climate change targets. Two recently published reports tell us the UK is falling behind on its key goal of reducing greenhouse gases by a whopping 78% by 2035.

However, ministers haven’t yet decided whether they will make the call. How can they, when they openly admit we need a healthy, balanced diet which includes meat and dairy.

NFU Scotland president, Martin Kennedy, has rightly criticised the Climate Control Committee for calling for major policy changes using science that is 30 years out of date.

Livestock is a crucial part of Scotland’s economy. High quality food production from locally reared livestock has a far lower carbon footprint than off-shoring our emissions to countries that do not share our values.

Let’s say we have a massive cull, then what do we do for food? We import it!

So, you tell me what’s better, eating produce which is sourced locally, or importing it from the other side of the world. It’s not rocket science.

We are allowing ourselves to be abused (and that’s the right word) by those who believe they are right and have no interest in what others say. Talk about the tail wagging the dog.

The issue of a labour shortage in the UK isn’t going away either. It’s not that you can’t find it – it’s just not there!

We’ve been blessed over a good number of years at home with foreign labour. However, as Covid-19 travel restrictions eased, many of them are heading home. Does that mean we need to rebrand our image in a bid to attract and hold onto our workforce?

Almost a third of dairy farmers have gone as far as to say they would consider leaving the industry due to a lack of labour. Dairy farming is a skilled job, not just for any Tom, Dick, or Harry.

We all rely on our work forces to look after our animals in businesses worth hundreds of thousands of pounds … if not millions. In essence, your future is in their hands – scary, isn’t it?

It’s good news, though, that the price of milk is on the ‘up’. First Milk farmers are to receive a fourth consecutive price increase from next month. Arla is to hold its July price, which has risen by a whopping 2.76p in recent months and Muller has also intimated a price rise.

Prices are heading upwards and apparently at a faster rate than at any time since 2014. On average, most processors have increased by close to 1p per litre.

Also, overall dairy demand is continuing to grow worldwide, despite ongoing debates around the impact of threats, including vegan alternatives, low incomes, and Covid-19.

However, as always, there is a ‘but’! And I’m sure I don’t need to tell any of you that the downside to this is that milk from forage production is on the up – and not just by a little bit.

In some cases, feed costs have increased by as much as £40 per tonne and the various farming unions are warning that the dairy industry is facing an extremely challenging year. That’s right across the board and not just farmers on the lower end contracts.

It’s still early days to see how our new Rural Economy Minister, Mairi Gougeon, is fairing. She leads an enhanced Rural Affairs and Islands brief, with responsibility for agriculture, food and drink policy, fisheries, and aquaculture, as well as co-ordination of policies for island communities. I sincerely hope she is as interested in the farming industry as her predecessor, Fergus Ewing.

We need a say in what’s a sustainable and profitable future and sincerely hope our new Cabinet Secretary and her team drive this forward as a matter of urgency. The Scottish Government has pledged to drive forward Scotland’s rural economy and so let’s hope this shiny, new dynamic does just that.

Now to that new trade deal – in principle – between the UK and Australia. It appears we will be protected by a cap on tariff-free imports from Down Under for 15 years, however there’s still a lot to learn and understand about the impact on us.

The RABDF (Royal Association of British Dairy Farmers) joined forces with 18 farming bodies to urge the government to remain committed to its trade negotiating objectives as talks reach the final stages.

Five principals have been agreed, including upholding our high standards of production. The UK must be seen as a global leader in sustainable farming and in tackling climate change and we cannot reward other countries with access to our markets who do not share the same level of production and environmental standards as us.

Government needs to share more detail about the agreement to make sure the final stages of the negotiations meet the needs of UK farmers. It’s vital we get this right.

If you’re interested in going to the Gold Cup Open Day, at Darnlaw, in Ayrshire, next month you better act quickly. All Covid-19 protocols will be covered and there may be a capacity limit due to social distancing regulations. Book your tickets now!

Also, congratulations to the new president of Holstein UK, John Jamieson, of Firth Holsteins, near Dumfries. John will hold this position for a two-year term with part of his remit to host the Holstein celebrations and agm in Dumfries and Galloway next year.