How close are we to food rationing? I can well remember as a child that after World War II petrol and more importantly to me, sweets, were rationed. On a Saturday, we were allocated our three sweets, to last us all week!

We had petrol rationing again when I was a teenager, during the Suez crisis when Anthony Eden was Prime Minister.

This time it is more likely to be bread first, followed by fuel and that is only if we do not have WW III, all because another Hitler in the form of Putin, wants to control Europe’s oil, gas, and grain.

If he is not stopped and World War III erupts, we will not need to worry about climate change as there will not be enough humans left on planet earth to cause any pollution!

Hopefully. that will not happen and the dumb politicians, particularly here in the UK, will wake up to the need for this country to be self-sufficient, firstly in food and then fuel.

The disaster in Ukraine, with the loss of thousands of lives and millions of businesses and homes, must surely mean that our politicians must prevent catastrophe caused by dictators whose minds seem to be at odds with common sense!

Having said that, it makes me wonder what is going on in the heads of some politicians in Holyrood, who do not want to extract the millions of barrels of oil and gas from the North Sea, particularly in the Cambo Field and in the same breath, turn down the 39 wind farm extension on Monadhliath Mountains, south of Fort Augustus, all because of the opposition from ‘do-gooders!’.

So much for their promises to develop renewables to replace oil and gas. It would fit these clowns at Holyrood better to listen to Fergus Ewing who maintained the North Sea oil and gas will remain an essential part of the UK’s energy mix in the transition to net zero over the coming decades.

The current crisis further underlines just how crucial domestic supplies are for our energy security.

Holyrood needs to take a leaf out of Ireland’s book and plough up every acre, including newly planted tree ground; stop all set-aside and concentrate on producing food before it is too late.

Ireland has set up a separate committee to co-ordinate increased food production in order to reduce imports. If we do not rid ourselves of those unelected Greens from Government, we will have ration books much more quickly than expected!

That takes me on to all the so-called trade deals the clever clogs at Westminster are trying to do and particularly with Australia and New Zealand where beef and lamb values are not dissimilar to here. Have they forgotten to factor in the cost of transport to bring it half way around the world?

A container of product from China that I heard about the other day, two years ago cost £600 – today it’s £18,000 and for an ambient temperature container. How much more will it cost in a chilled container with today’s fuel values?

The idea that we will get cheap food from around the world is now gone.

Last month, I gave you beef prices from various supermarkets but I ran out of space to tell you about my observations in Asda, in Cumbernauld, at 2pm on a Sunday.

This is a large Asda. It was very busy and had a long beef aisle on one side with pork and poultry on the other. I stood at the end to watch the buying patterns of the customers and, bearing in mind that, on average beef was around three times more expensive than either pork or chicken, I was pleasantly surprised to see probably 80% of the people were selecting from the beef aisle.

The other interesting aspect was that of four people I spoke to, of varying ages, to ask what they were looking for as they muddled through the steak shelves, the answer was, well marbled beef because it tasted better.

Now, for years, medics and other ‘professionals’, have been telling consumers that we should eat lean meat. Have we reached a watershed showing the consumer is no longer listening to the health experts, but want to purchase what they enjoy, food with the best taste.

I am aware that a survey of four does not prove very much, but last April, I was given the same response. Sadly, the steaks on most supermarkets' shelves are about as inconsistent as you could find because of our crap EUROP grading system which does not take into account the taste, flavour or succulence. It only recognises the shape of the animal, which is why the customers have to pick tasty beef of their own choice.

It might just be the case that the abattoirs I spoke about last month do want cattle rather than trees! The big question is how do we get the balance right with inflation rising so quickly.

Every cost is going up at such a rate it is impossible to keep pace with the changes. So, where does the beef price need to be, just to cover costs?

Almost an impossible question to answer. All I can say is, if finishers are covering their costs, they are lucky, if you are making a margin, you are an exception and if you are losing money, you are in the same boat as the majority!

I was asked the other day if £5/kg was enough deadweight? If you take in all the costs at today’s values, it is doubtful. I only know of four countries that are at £5 or more and that is Japan, Iceland, Australia and Germany.

There is one sure thing and that is beef on a world basis is becoming more scarce and there are several reasons – growing demand, fewer suckler cows, particularly in Europe, and cattle are being killed 5kg lighter, on average, thus reducing the total beef available.

Will that change? Unlikely, even with sexed semen being used on dairy herds’ best 25%, and the rest being put in calf to beef bulls, it will not be enough to replace the drop in suckler cows.

The other problem, particularly with the Aberdeen-Angus heifer calves out of Holstein cows, it is impossible to feed them and not lose money!

I know the dairy industry has many challenges but this incident took place recently on a large dairy unit in Central Scotland after milking was finished. Four Bulgarians were employed and had been milking there for some time.

They approached the owner and informed him that they had finished their last milking as they were all leaving that night to go to Essex to pick vegetables for more money per hour, that no milk producer could match and they were being paid £500 just to turn up!

There is another beef and sheep unit, also in Central Scotland, where four people were interviewed over a two week period. None of them lasted more than three days having been offered more money outside agriculture.

The next story is more understandable. Five Ukraine workers have left farms in Angus to go home to fight in the war.

On a lighter note, two weeks past today (Saturday)I was back at my first show in more than two years. Clyde and Central YFC held its calf show at Caledonian Market, as reported last week.

Three aspects were encouraging – The number of the next generation taking part; the way their calves were presented; and how well they were turned out themselves. It was great to see the young guys with ties on properly, and the girls have always been smartly dressed. Well done!

QMS seems to be in the firing line. This last two months, I have fired a few warning shots across its bows and nobody appears to be listening.

Fortunately, I did not need both barrels, as last week at a meeting in Aberdeenshire, Patrick Sleigh voiced our concerns in no uncertain manner. This dealt with the Farm Assurance side which has increased from 24 pages in 2011 to 54 this year, which is totally unnecessary.

The year before lockdown, this farm had seven inspections, all looking at the same paperwork and asking the same questions. That was only the Farm Assurance side that was discussed at Aberdeen, where there was clearly no need for any revised standards.

Neither QMS nor Red Tractor did their reputation any good by not listening to the levy payers who largely finance their organisation. So far as the marketing and promotion sides are concerned, the jury is out, but it sure needs to return to the core principles of promotion and marketing, using the money being used elsewhere!

For those who follow the rainfall, my 30-year average is 21-inches. This past winter, October to March, has been 23-inches, which is slightly above my long term average. This means, to my mind, that if we are to have an average year, there is still 15-inches to come over the summer!

Finally, as I pen these thoughts with the clocks moved forward on this perfect sunny Sunday morning, I have to think of this unnecessary war in Ukraine hoping that it ends soon for the sake of some wonderful people in a country not far from us.

As far as farmers go, I do not think that many of us alive have seen times such as this in our industry.