You do not need a mind like Einstein to work out that the Scottish beef industry is facing a number of challenges that will have the ability to make or break the mettle of those charged with overseeing its fiscal health.

Despite currently riding high on farm-gate prices, lurking in the background are many problems that have the ability to more than nullify any gains. Labour shortages in the killing trade, plus a constant battle against ill-informed comment from red meat detractors are the topics that face the lobbyists at the end game for our produce, while at the primary production end, soaring input costs of feed and fertiliser in particular are invoices that will come home to roost soon, if not already.

That makes it all the more important, then, for Quality Meat Scotland to choose wisely when looking to replace outgoing chief executive, Alan Clarke. Mr Clarke did a fine job in many respects, not the least in fresh thinking on promotional work, but the fact remains he inherited a substantial 'Scotch premium' when he landed the job five years ago and that has been eroded to a negligible (if any) amount now. That's down to a number of external factors over which QMS has no control, but it is a fact nonetheless.

There are arguments to be made against QMS' being overly involved in many technical areas – indeed Jim Brown makes them on this page – and that it should concentrate more on 'marketing' and selling the estimable products that Scotch Beef and Lamb and Specially Selected Pork are. Having said that, QMS was forced into chasing the money that the Scottish Government channelled into areas of animal husbandry that were never really intended to be part of its original remit.

Maybe now is the time to rethink the model. QMS for marketing and promotion of these great products and some other body for focussing on best management practices that will produce it. At the same time, it is incumbent on the Scottish Government to recognise that if we are to be a real player in the home and international markets, then there needs to be real investment injected into those functions that QMS were originally intended to perform. It cannot be right that a tin of beans receives more promotional spend than an entire country's red meat industry?

The next guiding hand for QMS should, at least, be given a decent budget with which to achieve the hopes and aspirations of a great industry. It's all about the money.

Beavering away

It would appear that the Scottish Government has shied away from any real and practical control methods for the beaver population in Scotland. Instead of ultimate control, re-locating beavers is the plan.

This stealing from Peter to pay Paul will only move the problem to other areas and thus widen the industry's dislike of them. The suspicion falls on the SNP alliance with the Scottish Green Party in this ploy, so we can only hope that they will be relocated to somewhere akin to the original launch site in Scotland, Knapdale, in Argyll ... where they appeared not to prosper, but disappeared instead!