2023 was a year that was anything but humdrum. Battles were fought between farmers and supermarkets as unheeded supply warnings from poultry farmers left more eggs on the retailers' faces than on the shelves.

The ripples of global market chaos filtered down to UK food production as we learned a new term 'foodflation' which hit a 45-year high in March. Whilst shoppers decried the cost of groceries, price rises are much needed if our farm businesses are to cover the cost of production.

There were further twists in the supply chain as ABP took over Scotbeef’s Bridge of Allan abattoir and Queenslie processing sites. Let’s hope that the reshuffling of the processor pack does not lead to the house of cards coming tumbling down. It would be great if a new Scotbeef abattoir at Inverurie was to be announced in 2024. There will also be many AMN members watching to see if the board decides a new mart is needed at Thainstone.

Whilst Scotland might not have the diversity of abattoirs that farmers would wish, many have felt there was too much diversity in the government as the Green Party’s involvement in Holyrood was panned by producers at the Highland Show. The ban on chemical treatments for bracken in the hills was widely condemned by hill farmers who seem to be increasingly embattled throughout the year.

Witnessing the floods and gales hitting Scotland this week, it seems impossible that in June The Scottish Farmer reported 'tinder dry' conditions across much of the country as wildfires ravaged hillsides. Something which disproportionately affected non-grazed ground where the sheep and shepherds have been told to leave.

Even the Royal Family was retreating from the hills this year as the prestigious Highland Cattle and Highland Ponies got their P45s at Balmoral.

Perhaps this year’s most innovative crop was the field of cars which Mr Innes of East Hermiston by Edinburgh managed to grow. He had thought it was oilseed rape which he had planted a couple of days before, but on return to the field, over 1000 cars had been plonked in his park as people took the tram to Murrayfield. Always looking for a bright side, I hear Mr Innes was asking Santa for a ticket machine in his stocking so Harvest 2024 could be the most profitable yet.

It was a poor year for the creditors of Alexander Inglis and Sons (AIS) who received the paltry amount of 1.82p for every £1 owed by the collapsed firm. Farmers were receiving cheques for £540 for debts worth over £30,000. It sounds a bit like the rural budget once Deputy First Minister Shona Robison has clipped the cash.

As 2023 draws to a close, Scottish agriculture has handled shocks and shakes again showing itself to be as resilient as ever, rolling on 2024.

Happy New Year to all our readers.