Dear Sir,

On the front page of The Scottish Farmer, 21st October, the headline "Asulox hammer blow" clearly demonstrated as your article went on to explain, that there has been a total lack of joined-up thinking by the Scottish Government which has led to UPL Europe deciding not to continue jumping through the hoops that may or may not have kept the chemical Asulam as the only safe option to control bracken on steep ground and ground where the terrain makes it unsafe to use wheeled machines for mechanical control.

I am aware that meetings with politicians on the subject of spraying bracken with chemicals this summer had been very negative, contributing, I am certain, to UPL Europe's decision to withdraw its support for further trials in the safe use of Asulam.

It seems incredible that our political leaders want to open up the countryside and encourage urbanites out of the town, but care nothing for their health or the cost to the NHS when ticks have a meal of human blood and leave their host with a pretty nasty, potentially fatal disease.

Touch wood, 2023 is the first year in many that I haven't come off my quad bike due to the quad bike overturning after running over a hiding rock in bracken while shepherding sheep on my farm. However, it should be noted that quad bikes are responsible for 19% of farming deaths and serious injuries, and I do wonder if this number might be reduced if there was less bracken on our hills.

Also of concern is that none of the farming organisations seem to have picked up on the point that due to our politicians effectively putting Asulam out of the reach of land managers in the control of bracken, they should by default no longer have the ability not to pay farmers their basic payment on land that is covered with dense bracken. How can the Scottish Government penalise farmers for having dense bracken when they have in effect banned the only safe method of ridding the countryside of this highly invasive plant which bracken experts have said may well be expanding in the UK at the rate of 14,000 Hectares every single year, or an area the size of Fife in only ten years.

Come on Scottish Government, at least play fair with the farming community, take a balanced approach to what is becoming an insurmountable problem, and see the bigger picture; bracken and ticks are far worse for all of us than a chemical that has been used safely and without incident for nearly 50 years, Asulam was first registered in the US in 1975. And certainly, do not penalise us for a situation we no longer have control over.

Come on the farming organisations, I have made the point for you, fight for your members and fight for what is right and just. Either get Asulam back on the menu or get us full payment on all our farmed land.

Yours faithfully, Hamish Waugh, Messrs D&E Waugh & Son, Effgill, Westerkirk, Langholm