WHILE it's been yet another momentous political week, it's also been a tumultuous one for the agricultural industry with more rumblings about the loss of the Scotch premium as retailers favour cheap imports; the British Limousin Cattle Society is again embroiled in a 'parentage' row; and the more cerebral discussions at the Oxford Farming Conference had little politicking from north of the Border.

First off, the processing/retailing agenda with red meat seems still to be eschewing the many benefits of home-produced and assured product. But the weird juxtaposition of some of the retail giants posting huge Christmas profits – Sainsbury is estimating 'at least' £720m for this financial year – and scrabbling for position about who is the best on-line retailer, with the fact that 'not enough staff' could be found to slap a simple Scotch label onto a meat product, doesn't seem to stack up.

There's also a growing feeling that when the Scotch premium was sitting at 12-20p per kg dw, then finishers tended to overlook – though still grumbled – about some slaughterhouse's carcase practices which literally sliced kilos off their animal in the cutting room that they then did not pay for.

So, maybe the fact that abattoirs in the south aren't so over-zealous at cutting down consigned cattle weights and will still take cattle at a bigger weight, are amongst the reasons why Scots are sending cattle south in droves. Has Scotch lost its shine?

With DNA profiling being used by top end retailers to add accreditation to beef in store, so does the pedigree industry use it to back its only real job – and that is to guarantee the veracity of the parentage of animal in its register. You cannot back breed specific marketing of beef, for instance, without first ensuring that the pedigree background stands up to scrutiny.

Given more problems being thrown up with the British Limousin Cattle Society, maybe it's time for the breeding industry, as a whole, to take on board that this will always be a problem unless united steps are taken to ensure that deliberate 'mistakes' do not continue! Surely, there must be a collective way of drawing a line in the sand and moving on from this debacle?

Moving to the topic of ScotGov's presence, or lack of it, at OFC politics session – it was quite astounding that Holyrood could not put up someone to carry the debate about what we are doing in Scotland. If, as we are told, we will have a much more agri-friendly approach to future farming support (or investment?), then this would have been the place to crow about it.

As Richard Wright reports in this week's Euro Note Book column, the English system is almost making the word 'production' a dirty one, whilst embarking on making butterflies and bees the raison d'etre of farming acres. Then why should we not shout about the fact that we can do the same whilst making production of food at its very centre and it would have been a great platform from which to shout about the very real progress (see Andrew Moir's Farm View column this week) being made in enshrining the Farming-Led Groups' eminently sensible blueprints for the future. Unless, of course, these are being watered down?