News that Argyll College cannot muster enough students to run an agriculture course is a concerning state of affairs for our industry. Last year, it was Dundee College that reduced its commitment to land-based learning, and this trend seems to be spreading. If we are to secure the future of farming and food production, a steady flow of new recruits must join the industry every year.

A career in agriculture is often undersold to youngsters who mistakenly believe that it requires owning a farm and working 365 days a year. In truth, there are numerous opportunities in the sector, ranging from auctioneers and tractor operators to land agents and even humble agri-journalists.

However, we are not effectively promoting these opportunities to the next generation. There is a need for multiple farming career fairs across Scotland to showcase the options available to young people seeking an engaging and rewarding job. While we acknowledge the financial challenges in farming, we must be cautious not to undermine ourselves. Times may be tough, but there are still opportunities for businesses and careers to flourish.

One area that is clearly not thriving is the relationship between our former farming minister, Fergus Ewing, and his political party. His short suspension is a mere slap on the wrist though compared to permanent expulsion. Clearly for some of his fellow party members his comments in support of farmers against a growing green agenda have not gone unnoticed. Many farmers have appreciated his efforts to retain the use of the bracken control chemical asulox and his warnings that the Green tail is wagging the SNP dog. However, making tough decisions from the hot seat is more challenging than taking pot shots from the back benches.

Regrettably, there were few tough decisions in the announcement of the new Agricultural Bill. While we were cautioned not to expect much from the bill, the entire rural economy is eagerly awaiting more details on future payments. Our Farming Minister, Mairi Gougeon, needs to be more attuned to these concerns. Some details are emerging about future support health schemes and potential alterations to the beef calf scheme, but the fundamental requirements for farmers to receive the bulk of payments remain undisclosed, let alone the exact amount of financial support.

Farmer meetings across the country have already expressed discontent with the prospect of additional rules being added to the beef calf scheme. The headage scheme is simple and effective, and critically it directly benefits the farmers who keep cows. Any additional requirements must be carefully considered, as a lack of confidence is evident from the prices at recent breeding sales this autumn.

A swift resolution for our indecisive Minister would involve finding the missing £33 million, which the Deputy First Minister diverted last November. This sum could provide over £80 per calf in Scotland, a much-needed boost to help preserve our proud national herd.