SIR, – Having read the Scottish Farmer last week, I felt compelled to write to say that I agree, in most part, with Jim Walker.

Farmers need an agricultural policy now so that we can plan for the future of our businesses and also deliver on the many environmental targets that the Scottish countryside has been set.

As he rightly pointed out, our options are masked in fog and doubt. And let us be clear, agriculture policy is devolved and totally within the Scottish Government’s hands. Sadly, it appears that the dithering and delay that farmers have seen for the past three years is set to continue.

The adage that 'too much analysis leads to paralysis' now seems not only appropriate to the 'old' Cabinet Secretary, Fergus Ewing, but also to our fledgling minister, Mairi Gougeon.

The stunning lack of Scottish Government policy was highlighted by Chris Stark (CEO of the Committee on Climate Change) who told the Scottish Parliament in January, 2020, that he was not only 'critical of the lack of policy' but he was also 'dubious that what had been proposed would deliver the target of net zero by 2045'. A damning indictment on a subject that we cannot afford to fail on.

So, Jim is right when he said we now need to see some leadership from our new Cabinet Secretary, who seems to have gone AWOL. When we finish our harvest and before the bulls and the rams go out, we need clear policies and targets for our industry, which we must remember not only feeds us but can also deliver on the climate change targets we all recognise we need.

Frankly, not to do so will not only be a further dis-service to the industry and would be no more than a continuation of the paralysis we have had to deal with under Fergus. Farmers deserve better and Mairi Gougeon needs to step up to the plate.

Edward Mountain MSP

for Highlands and Islands Region.