Scots farmers who were the bedrock of SNP support at one time, are finally waking up to the fact that this shiny green-washed government is all fur coat and no knickers.

Thankfully summer has returned in September to allow the harvest and winter fodder gathering to be completed, when it looked for all the world that 1985 beckoned again during the July/early August wash out. The regrowth on Michael’s silage fields since second cut in mid-August has been phenomenal. The reseeding is also looking well and FYM and slurry have ensured even permanent and rough grazing fields have had a timely, late summer boost.

Stock is thriving and I have never seen lambs finish off grass so quickly. The unseasonal weather doesn’t come without its’ challenges however, with staggers in cows despite access to minerals. And I have never seen so many ‘struck’ ewes and lambs in my life. It has been a constant battle since June actually, with more pour-on used than I have ever known – but I may add with very mixed results.

Manufacturers claiming 8-10 weeks protection from blowfly this year has frankly been total nonsense, more like 4-5 weeks has been the norm. So much so that the autumn dipping has been completed in August to try and give the sheep and the shepherds some respite! I can only imagine the mess ranched or ‘easy care’ sheep are in this year?!

As well as the weather lifting everyone’s spirits, the value of most stock is also pretty decent. Breeding sheep in the main have been grand, and on a par with last year’s record prices. Finished lambs and cast ewes continue to trade above last year’s levels as long as they are well finished.

Although, it’s always a sure sign of a lack of cash in the industry when half-meated lambs are getting off-loaded too early, and there is definitely a lack of cash in the industry right now as last winters’ high input prices and increasing borrowing costs really start to bite!!

Clean cattle and cull cow prices are on the move back up after the fun and games of the last couple of months. The Irish owned factories driving the prices too far down yet again is as daft and illogical as it is predictable. They can’t seem to help themselves. Rather than trying to keep some stability in the job, this endless game, (and it is a game), of ping-pong prices can do no-one any good, not even the folk who are driving these ill-considered price changes.

I worked for a company that was clearly interested in making money and they did, lots of it. But they also took investment decisions on a 20 year time horizon, not 20 minutes. I get that consumer demand for beef is fickle, and I get that there is a need for a positive cash flow for any business, but there is a better way to run and plan a business than the weekly, short term mentality, or maybe fixation, of some of the big meat traders.

They may well have created successful, profitable business empires, and good luck to them. But there is no way that driving people out of the industry, in turn reducing cow numbers, which is what has been happening for years, is creating a sustainable platform for a thriving, growing industry for the future. They are simply helping to accelerate its’ decline, in effect “killing the goose that lays the golden egg”!

Mind you, they are in good company as the other main influence on Scots beef farmer’s decision making, Scot Gov, or maybe more accurately the Greens, continue merrily contributing to the decimation of the sector as their policy paralysis remains for all to see. Auction marts around the country are buzzing with stories of yet more suckler cows being put off, (never to return), this autumn.

This will certainly suit the misguided wishes of the present Green-led coalition. But it definitely won’t suit the Irish processors who need throughput to make money, which makes their antics on prices over the summer all the more difficult to understand or justify.

The much-trailed Programme for Government (PFG) was announced by Humza Yousaf this week and the most striking part of it, as far as agriculture is concerned, was his complete disregard of our sector. Despite yet another letter from NFUS President Martin Kennedy begging that we get a look in because we are important, there is not a mention, nothing to enlighten us, no meaningful new policy /legislative announcement- nothing, nada, nought, zip, diddly squat! Just rehashed rhetoric about the Agriculture Bill and other old hat that in reality takes business planning no further forward.

It is clear that this administration has run out of ideas and energy, if indeed it ever had any under Nicola Sturgeon. And many Scots, and in particular many Scots farmers who were the bedrock of SNP support at one time, are finally waking up to the fact that this shiny green-washed government is all fur coat and no knickers. To quote a respected political commentator last week, “Doubtless the PFG the FM announces will smoothly accept the importance of a dynamic economy, [of which agriculture and food play a crucial part], but there are few reasons for thinking this will be anything more than a skin-deep commitment to growth”. Sadly, this has been borne out and dispiritingly represents business as usual in Scotland – no leadership, no direction, no understanding of business including agriculture. Indeed, over 90% of the business sector in Scotland now believe this Green/SNP coalition has no understanding of business. And despite Martin Kennedy’s protestations, they have no understanding of agriculture either.

So what was announced in the PFG? Well, Mairi Gougeon will start paying BPS this month which is welcome of course but old news. She will introduce yet another Land Reform Bill, the Greens like talking about land reform as we all know. She will create a new support framework through the Agriculture Bill (yawn) and guess what…? “Continue to work with stakeholders to develop key elements of that framework, including the whole farm plan, a new approach to advice and support and enhanced conditional support measures. Continue the Agriculture Reform Programme to produce more of our food sustainably, cut carbon emissions and farm with Nature by increasing the uptake of carbon audits, soil testing and biodiversity audits, and funding to improve animal health.” Oh, and some blurb about poultry, eggs, venison, seed potatoes and new entrants, in effect the sum total of two fags and a balloon.

So, yes folks, you’ve guessed it – absolutely no detail to help you plan your futures. No strategy, just some rehashed, re-announced, ad hoc measures to encourage SRUC, consultants and vets to take your money but certainly no vision. Lots about planting trees, preserving peat bogs and attacking gamekeepers and anyone who enjoys country sports, but we are getting used to this from the present blinkered Green-led administration.

There was one little sinister mention of beef, where she states that beef support will be linked to cutting emissions from your beef herd from 2025. This is maybe the inspired idea we’ve heard already about recording cuts to suckler calving intervals to reduce methane – who knows? Mind you I reckon this PFG announcement has created more hot air than the suckler cows they are so desperate to get rid of!!

Anyway, be assured, absolutely nothing meaningful to help any of us now or planning for the future. So once again, if you didn’t already know it, you’re on your own, so continue to paddle your own canoe is my advice. Although that is becoming even harder with interest rates increasing and taxes inevitably rising to pay for all sorts of SNP/Green largesse with a shrinking Scottish tax base.

The news that Birmingham City Council, the biggest local authority in Europe, is bankrupt should serve as a warning to this lot allegedly running Scotland. Ignore business, wealth generators, economic growth, and, dare I say it, food producers at your peril… As Abraham Lincoln famously said, “You can fool some of the people all the time, and all of the people some of the time but you cannot, in the end, fool all of the people all of the time.”