I really like the month of May. Everything turns a dark shade of green, hedges bursting into life, the 180 year old hedges competing with the new ones to be first with the spring buds.

From my tractor seat I see skylarks skipping in and out of tramlines, hares making themselves very small, ears tucked back, eyes wide in fear and expectation, ready to leap off from their small earth nest at some speed, as the leverets can make easy prey to our burgeoning red kite and buzzard populations.

Swallows swooping – their acrobatics something to behold as they dodge in-between tractor and implement in the quest for the multitude of flying insects.

The grey partridges along with the foreign red legs bursting into flight, the sound of our cuckoos as evening descends adds to my reverie and joy at being able to live and work with such a backdrop – which is after all in our instance totally man-made.

I make this point because I see that Lorna Slater is asking for a consultation (yes another one) on where we should be positioning another National Park.

I will digress a little as in my last column I expressed my delight that Ms Slater would be speaking at the Scottish Agronomy AGM and that members would be able to question and educate – but she was a no show – a 10 minute video presentation with no opportunity for questions for her to really understand the farming perspective.

This is not the first time the Minister for Green Skills, Circular Economy and Biodiversity has deemed it necessary NOT to turn up in person. Reports of toys being thrown out at the November COP as she directed officials to book no more than two meetings in the day! A reputation akin to sleeping in – once it’s established then hard to shake off.

I know she was on farm with our NFUS president and that’s great, but really hearing the difficult stories from the grass roots gets the necessary feelings to allow proper policies to be made, not airy fairy, pie in the sky populist policies to feature.

Politicians of all colours really need to step up see the whites of the eyes of their constituents, I’ve had my MSP and MP on farm fairly recently to see and hear for themselves and I would like to invite Ms Slater to visit at her earliest convenience.

We really need a severe dose of realism – we are at war and the debate on using biotech in agriculture gets the trotting out of banal and frankly inappropriate remarks coming from a Scottish Government official, that they are 'long opposed to the cultivation of GM crops in order to protect the clean and green status of Scotland'.

The first mistake is calling it GM – what parallel universe are they in? The technology exists to reduce use of chemicals but not reduce the production. With CRISPR technology, its precision can allow introduction of good traits within a specific species like blight resistance in potatoes into a higher yielding variety and therefore better for the climate and feeding the population. Also the addition of nitrogen fixing nodules to cereal crops is a possibility therefore reducing the need for inorganic N and the nitrous oxide emissions that ensue.

The constant push to reduce chemical use in crops would be acceptable if that wakeup call is heeded. What the general public don’t realise is that, for example, a fungicide spray on wheat ears to prevent fusarium actually prevents multiple deaths in humans and animals.

If we have a wet harvest period and the ears are not protected, then high levels of fusarium in bread or animal feed can ensue and if not controlled will affect immune systems resulting in mycotoxin immunosuppression resulting in decreased animal and human host resistance to infectious diseases.

Therefore, if there is no change on the demand side, this means that we must expect more scarcity and therefore price increases. It will also have negative consequences for the trade balance as exports fall and imports rise.

The problem we have is that we humans now have an expectation that food and food safety are expected as a matter of fact – no negotiation…

This is why our Scottish Quality Crops (SQC) scheme is so important. Food safety is its main driver and I’m proud to be leading the organisation through what is considerable change at home and abroad.

SQC is not alone in adopting change with the introduction of our new Managing Director Teresa Dougall. Teresa took over from Alistair Ewan who will continue in a supporting role for a few months ensuring a smooth changing of the guard.

Quality assurance has been getting some negative press recently and some navel gazing has been taking place and SQC is not immune from that.

At the NFUS AGM I spoke on the same platform as QMS and Red Tractor and I informed the virtual audience that SQC are at a crossroads with input required from members on how SQC should proceed. To date I have only had one telephone call on the subject which I welcomed, but expected more.

The realization that assurance is required and necessary as a route to market is crystal clear and with the SQC invite to tender for an arm’s length certification body closing on June 10, a new contract will be awarded to the winning applicant with a start date of October 1.

Alongside this the SQC Board of Directors will hold a two day workshop at the end of May to review their current five year strategy and agree priorities for the next five.

One thing that won’t change is the key direction of travel for SQC – to maintain the integrity of the scheme, focus on Scottish crop growers and add value to businesses by maximizing cost-effective access to multiple market opportunities.

New policy on future funding is becoming clearer now that the Track 1 proposals have been announced – please go onto the Rural Payments website and search for the Sustainable Farming Guidance to get the information required. The portal for applications will be open towards the end of May/June, so look out for that, as what an opportunity to show the high levels of carbon in our soils and apply to claim for the costs of soil sampling and training. Basic stuff I know but a sound foundation will be built and stats to show how good Scottish agriculture is to help sell our credentials to customers.

I am writing this on the evening of the 16th after a welcome 10mm of rain and the announcement that India has imposed an export ban on wheat due to a heatwave that the country is currently experiencing. This was a signal for the November wheat futures to rise by £17 and it gives me no real pleasure in seeing £10k lorry loads of grain leaving the yard as the prices are for all the wrong reasons!

The above mentioned war footing, the fuel and food poverty which is in the here and now, and we have politicians posturing about National Parks and more consultations – I despair. Where has common sense gone?