The slaughter continues in Ukraine – having failed to conquer the country in a week, as Russians were promised, Putin is now randomly firing missiles at towns and cities because he can.

True to form, his rag bag army and hired guns continue to inflict untold horrors on the innocent people of the Ukraine. To debate if what is happening is a war crime or genocide is, frankly, pure semantics.

It is barbaric, outrageous and inhumane and there isn’t an adjective in the dictionary to adequately describe the actions of Putin and his acolytes. They are murderers, plain and simple.

At least the garrison on Snake Island have had the last laugh after they famously told the captain of the Russian Battleship Moskva to “go f**k himself” when he insisted they surrender. They’ve now watched this flagship of the Russian Black Sea Fleet sink without trace – allegedly with the said captain – after it was hit by Ukrainian missiles.

The control of Mariupol and other Black Sea ports really matters because they represent the key to the future prosperity of the Ukraine. Steel, coal and corn are exported from these strategically important ports. It’s therefore no surprise that Putin’s attention has turned to the East and South of Ukraine as much of the mineral reserves of coal,oil, gas, iron ore, manganese, titanium etc are to be found there.

With control of the Black Sea ports and willing customers in China, India and Pakistan, licking their lips at the prospect of accessing cheap commodities from their wee pal Putin, you don’t have to be a Professor of Global Economics to see what the game plan is. Taking Kyiv would have been great for Putin’s insatiable ego but this is really about natural resources and cash.

The consequence of this latest phase of the war in the Ukraine will have wide ranging impacts on our everyday lives and businesses for years to come. The slaughter of innocents, the rape and summary executions, and the wanton destruction of towns and villages has hardened the already determined resistance of ordinary Ukrainians and their military.

But frankly, the leadership know that if they don’t control their natural resources and the means to export them by sea, their country’s future is bleak as their economy will be destroyed like their infrastructure.

Will a proud nation wait for aid and handouts from the UN, the EU or the US after the war, or will they fight now to preserve their way of life and economic means to sustain it? It’s a no brainer, so buckle down for a long campaign.

A protracted conflict will disrupt global supply chains for the foreseeable future. Although the impact on us will be substantial (and already is) spare a thought for the poorest around the world who rely on traded grain to survive. Putin isn’t just murdering thousands of Ukrainians, he is effectively sentencing millions of the world’s most vulnerable to death by starvation.

So this isn’t a short term blip – it will have a fundamental impact on the future shape and structure of Scottish agriculture. How many pigs, hens, sucklers and dairy cows are already gone and how many more are about to go? The unimaginable has happened, we are at war and the unthinkable will be the consequence.

As this unfolds, I expected a robust response from our representative bodies, but astonishingly NFUS has all but disappeared. When Martin Kennedy (God bless him), sold his soul to ScotGov and decided to chair their latest (useless) talking shop last autumn, it effectively ended their chance of ever being an effective lobbying force again.

Bew Money has been wasted on carbon audits, soil sampling and BES Mk2 and a few quid thrown at slurry management and equipment is the outcome. If I was selling my soul, I think I would have extracted a much higher price!

NFUS’ howls of protest about the latest pathetic £5m version of the SCGS have been totally ignored setting the scene for future relations – Scot Gov will talk to them, smile sweetly and continue to ignore them.

As a result of this massive error of judgement, with the scale of the serious challenges every business is now facing NFUS has effectively rendered itself largely irrelevant in finding solutions.

Mind you, their irrelevance pales into insignificance compared to the empty shell that QMS has become. Since it was made an NDPB in 2008, it has developed into a second rate version of the awful MLC it replaced in 1999.

It has become a great place for folk looking for their noses in the trough, a hallmark of the old MLC before its break up. Can anyone tell me what it actually does, despite all the words about it’s importance and so called engagement? Much more importantly, what value does paying for QMS actually add to our businesses?

The outgoing CEO was lauded for his achievements by his chair and NFUS, but other than turning it into another Civil Service department and trying to please everybody, what are these achievements?

Getting rid of the Scotch premium, that’s certainly an achievement, but not one to be proud of! Is revamping assurance inspections by creating yet another body to run them with another board and more bureaucracy and costs, when the schemes are already outdated and irrelevant to many of our customers, maybe they think that’s an achievement.

I suppose it will be for some for some because it’s another chance for a forum to give jobs to the boys and talk rubbish.

Three years ago I attended an 'emergency beef summit' at UA Stirling in response to the dire beef prices at that time, not much more than £3/dwkg.

As usual the great and the good were all there wanting to be seen but contributing little or nothing. I had previously neither met nor heard either Alan Clarke, or Kate Rowell, from QMS. I listened in abject horror to their lack of knowledge about the workings of the beef industry.

They both wittered on about co-operation in the supply chain and everyone being nice to each other to sort the mess. It was embarrassing and cringeworthy. It was as if they had skipped to work in the morning along the yellow brick road!

When Larry Goodman had feedback from the meeting (and he would get it) I’m sure he was quaking in his boots!

In the absence of anything useful being proposed, Fergus Ewing instructed QMS to come up with a strategy for the Scottish beef industry. It’s a bit like the current Food Security Committee, if in doubt, with no idea of what to do, set up a committee to talk about it and it might go away.

Three years later and lots of consultation with every man and his dog where is this strategy? I’m told on good authority the Civil Service masters wouldn’t allow publication unless a reduction in the beef herd was part of the strategy. Even that isn’t an achievement, as it’s happening anyway without bloody QMS.

The new CEO has continued in the same vein and decreed that she is going out this summer to 'reconnect with farmers'. Hopefully there won't be another consultation about something so it won't be like Groundhog Day!

In the absence of a clear business plan with actions and outcomes, we have the 10-year QMS strategy that Mr Clarke was apparently so proud of, he retired. Have you read it?

QMS wasn’t set up to talk to farmers, it was set up to add value to what levy payers contribute to run the damned thing. Talk to your shareholders when you’ve something to tell them, notably that you are adding value to their individual businesses by your actions.

Being nice isn’t the same as being effective!

QMS doesn’t actually serve the farmers who fund it anymore, it is used (and abused) by Civil Servants to do their bidding at our expense. In my recent experience of Bew and FLGs, despite what Sarah Miller claimed, I can tell you unequivocally they have little or no influence on their Lords and Masters at Holyrood – they are frightened to open their mouth, never mind challenge or advise.

The recent track record can be best summed up as running with the hare and hunting with the hounds! If ScotGov loves QMS so much, why don’t they fund it and scrap the levy?

The idea of quality assurance arose at the time of food scares made much worse by the BSE/nvCJD scandal in the 1990s. But that was a different time, a bygone era when priorities were different.

Producing food to certain standards is now a given, so the type of schemes punted by QMS and Red Tractor have run their course. They no longer serve the type of useful function that many of our customers require.

How many of you get audited by McDonald’s or M&S, et al, even though you are already QMS Farm Assured? It has become little more than a bureaucratic tick box, a costly irritation that needs a total rethink.

The marketing function should be the jewel in the QMS crown but that’s been neutered as well. To lose the Scotch premium is unforgivable given the foundation it was built on and is a damning result of recent years.

To throw money at a beef promotion campaign in January, 2022, when there was hardly a Scotch label to be found on any multiple retail beef offering was scandalous and a total waste of our money.

Advertising and promotion is different from market development. QMS should focus on the latter, but it’s much easier to spend money on worthless advertising and promotion and look visible and busy.

It claims to provide economic and market information, but we buy much more authoritative, useful and timely data – none of it provided by QMS.

What of the much vaunted R and D function that we can’t exist without? Meat eating quality should have been the No 1 priority for years, but they can only talk about it. We still have outdated and useless cattle and sheep grading systems that add no value to producers, but the processors love as they can manipulate them to their own advantage.

Australia identified eating quality as The Holy Grail and look at the progress it has made. The proof of the pudding, is in the eating – and their beef is worth more than ours for the first time in history and eating quality has undoubtedly been a contributing factor.

We also took part in a well publicised QMS-run DNA trial and have had absolutely zero feedback. A bit like the awful BES that QMS should have been able to influence if you listen to the rhetoric about how Civil Servants listen to them. But once again silence reined?

So why don’t we do something totally different, after all, what’s to lose? If we get rid of it, we can still promote and develop markets via Scotland Food and Drink, so no worries there.

If our customers need QA let them tell us what that means and we can decide if it’s worth the hassle and the cost, rather than being lectured by folk who mostly have never done the job.

To achieve the positive change we desperately need, everyone that pays a levy should get a vote on the future of QMS. Those votes should be weighted according to the value of the levy the business pays.

NFUS should have no part to play in this process as it doesn’t pay any levies. So let’s force this change because every dog has his day and to my mind, at least, this old QMS dog is done.