Sir, – I am writing in response to MSP Edward Mountain’s letter in The Scottish Farmer of August 21.

I completely agree with everything he raised and I would like to add that our family farms, crofts, smallholdings and market gardeners, have suffered at the hands of ill-informed governments creating biased subsidy systems.

Anyone who gets up in the mornings come rain, hail or shine to feed their own livestock and till their own land can wait no longer for a government who will dither and procrastinate and eventually put the money straight into the hands of the large agri-businesses and venture capitalists. It would seem that anyone with a direct connection to the land and their stock will be relegated to the poppy planted field margins.

In 2016, molecular biologist Dr David Johnson gave a talk to delegates of Regeneration International (following COP21, in Paris) on 'Managing soils for soil carbon sequestration' (see Dr David Johnson on Engineering Microbiology on YouTube). He outlined how agriculture could be the primary contributor in halting global warming.

In his address, he provided a simple answer and stated that we, as farmers, can make a difference right now – all we need to do is what we have all been trained to do and that is to be farmers.

A coherent and well-informed government policy on food production and the environment would be a tremendous thing, but it would appear that this is not going to happen anytime soon. So what do we farmers do in the meantime? As individuals, we do not need a political mandate or government permission to start making changes in how we do things, just the will to try.

Dr Johnson’s research is proving that a carbon neutral farming system is possible within three to five years and there is sufficient capacity within our soils to capture 10 to 15 tonnes per ha of carbon annually for the next 75 years. That could equate to £200-300 per hectare in added income in the form of carbon offsetting, and this can be done while farming sustainably and profitably.

Frank Smith