It was Benjamin Franklin who famously said: “In this world nothing is certain except death and taxes."

Some 200 years later, I think I’ve found another couple of certainties to add to these.

First, a prolonged dry spell will always be followed by a wet one, as Mother Nature always evens things up. And second, politics is now dominated by spin not substance, by words not deeds and by broken promises, not coherent policies and action.

As proof of this, by the end of September we recorded 26.5 inches of rain, or less than 50% of our five-year annual average. Then October, (actually the second half of October) saw nine inches fall and the annual average started to look more achievable!

Fortunately, Michael and Stuart managed to get the new steading at Drumbuie ready for cattle two weeks ago. The cattle were literally chasing electricians, builders and fitters out of the shed as the storm clouds gathered.

What a Herculean effort by all involved to successfully deliver such a huge project in difficult circumstances. We have not been immune to the stresses caused by delivery issues and delays in the building materials supply chains.

However, with some creativity and 'encouragement' from Michael, Brian Cathcart and his team at BHC managed to get our project over the line. Of course, we’ve been lucky that we’ve had such a tremendous autumn, with dry fields and lots of good quality grass.

Jack Nicklaus who, when asked by a golf correspondent what he put his success down to, replied: “I guess I’ve been lucky, but funnily enough the harder I’ve worked, the luckier I’ve become”! I reckon that sums up perfectly the tremendous effort that had gone into this summer's project.

What of politics and the endless spin we have to endure? Well, as I write this the 'spin event' of the year is in full swing in Glasgow. I refer of course to COP26.

Whatever the outcome, you can be sure that hot air and promises will be in abundance. Where it will certainly fall short is detailed policies, actions and timetabled binding commitments that are urgently needed to slow down the increasingly threatening changes to our planet’s climate.

Closer to home, in Scotland, this is also evident in spades as we witness the dying embers of the excellent Farmer-Led Group (FLG) initiatives of 2020 and early 2021. We really did have the chance to do something radical and different which would actually have been a world first.

It wasn’t hype, spin or waffle, it was properly thought through, meaningful, practical and deliverable. Farmers working with farmers, for farmers, businesses and the planet.

But a toxic combination of woefully inadequate and in some cases totally incompetent senior civil servants, mixed with a naive government in Scotland with absolutely no policies for the food and agriculture sectors, means the FLG initiative is all but dead. What a fabulous opportunity lost – instead of something entrepreneurial and fresh, we are back to the same old, same old, spin and waffle.

The belated creation of the Agriculture Reform Implementation Oversight Board – even the title is drivel – to satisfy one of the SNP’s 100 days in office commitments, was the telling sign of the direction of travel. Despite the best efforts of some well-meaning, really decent folk on the group, the FLG concept has been wiped from the future policy map.

Instead, Mairi Gougeon got what her masters wanted – a wee press release to coincide with the COP26 circus arriving in Glasgow. Instead of a targeted beef scheme promised a year ago in the SNP 2020/21 Programme for Government, which was to be followed by a single climate scheme across all sectors, we now have the 'National Test Programme'. .

This is to be funded by 'up to' £51m over three years (a pittance), to assist farmers, crofters and land managers to transition to a system of sustainable agriculture that will reduce GHG emissions and enhance biodiversity in our agricultural landscape.

In what is described in marvellous civil service speak as 'Track 1', it looks like we will have to undertake carbon audits and Nutrient Management Plans as part of cross-compliance to receive basic support payments and may even get two fags and a balloon’s worth of extra funding for these tasks.

Or maybe they’ll just cut out the middle man and hand the money straight to SAC? It’s a good job I managed to secure funding from the Bew Review which is now confirmed for another three years, not that I ever imagined it would be frittered away on this and no doubt further pointless Sustainable Agriculture Capital Grant Schemes!

As an aside, I’ve had sight of a report of the SAC evaluation of the estimated emission reductions for last year’s Santa Claus (SACGS) Scheme. It is an absolute joke – talk about lies, damn lies and statistics ... and spin!

Our beef scheme was killed off partly because senior officials claimed it wasn’t good value for public money. These same officials have now clearly leant on SAC to justify this appalling scheme by being told to assign carbon savings to EID, calving cameras, handling systems and all manner of weird and wonderful gadgets and equipment. It’s actually embarrassing.

You should read the report – it tells you all you need to know about the mess agricultural policy in Scotland is in. Audit Scotland hated the AECS scheme, so God only knows what they’ll make of this fairy story.

Instead of our proposed beef scheme, you’ll be pleased to hear that apparently the Beef Efficiency Scheme was such a success it is being reincarnated by the establishment of what is now to be called a 'Livestock Data Performance Feedback Scheme'. You couldn’t make it up!

I have no problem with proposed carbon audits and nutrient management plans; many have done these for years. I have no problem with collecting data about the performance of our suckler beef herd; again, good farmers do this already.

Where I have a massive problem is what will this data be used for and by whom? What are the outcomes being targeted from this lot and where will it all add value to the prospects for our businesses?

These tools are a means to an end, not an end in themselves, but civil servants never got that and clearly still don’t. In a nutshell, what’s the plan and just as importantly, who the hell is going to lead and champion this?

NFUS can’t, partly because it’s now often a struggle to differentiate between government and NFUS – just look at the recent press releases. Martin Kennedy is a lovely guy and he has great instincts, but why he went along with this drivel I will never know.

His press release welcoming this also welcomed the commitment from Mairi Gougeon that she doesn’t have a policy for reducing livestock numbers in Scotland – as if somehow this threat has gone away.

Indeed, seeing off this crazy policy is bizarrely one of the reasons Martin claimed he signed up to this group in the first place. Quite how he couldn’t have fought it outwith the group is a mystery, as he has many emails from me where senior officials have made it clear (and still do) that reducing suckler cows will be necessary to meet climate targets.

So, despite this commitment, I can assure The SF's readers this definitely hasn’t gone away. In fact, I believe this announcement now makes it more likely, not less.

Why? Because as well as Track 1, we have a classic Sir Humphrey Track 2 to contend with. This is all about measuring the environmental performance of farms, including what seem to be biodiversity audits.

SG will create a 'Conditionality Test Programme', whatever that is and will instigate an 'Active Livestock Management Initiative' for suckler herds. The usual go-to organisations, like SAC and QMS, will no doubt get loads of the Bew money to set up and run these marvellous schemes. They will certainly not be farmer-led.

All this will be piloted using focus groups, monitor farms and consultants by the dozen. By 2024/25, when it has failed, which it will, then the livestock reduction policy will be trawled back out to solve the even bigger climate emergency that we will face by then because we’ve achieved little or nothing by wasting time on all this nonsense.

Nowhere in any of this waffle is there a single mention of helping to improve efficiency and resilience on farms which would also mean emissions reductions, as the two go hand in hand. Nowhere does it talk about the food chain we are part of and ensuring that sustainably produced food gets properly financially rewarded by the market.

Nowhere does it mention the priority of focusing on farmers’ reducing their reliance on farm subsidies in the next three or four years as we approach the cliff edge of reduced Treasury spending on our sector. Just look at England today if you still don’t believe me – it’s coming.

Nowhere is there any coherent policy that attempts to address the fundamental issues of producing food to help power the Scottish economy in a sustainable, climate-friendly way.

All of these were at the heart of my beef group’s original remit to try and change the focus of agriculture in Scotland, which were embraced and developed by the other excellent FLGs. None have been addressed by this babble. But I won’t mention this again, as I’m as sick of it as I’m sure you all are and it’s history.

So, like many other forward thinking farming businesses in Scotland, we are investing in our own future to address and solve these issues without waiting for anyone.

The further away from any reliance on this drivel we can get, the better, because it is total bollocks and is destined to fail. Like COP26, it’s no more than hollow words, promises and commitments to be broken at will.