SIR - All farmers will certainly be welcoming this Farm Assurance review.

Hopefully this exercise will be completely independent, fully transparent and will seek to address the many issues which our farmers are concerned about. The effect on many farmers’ mental wellbeing while dealing with some of the inspectors and auditors of these schemes is shocking.

It is simply unacceptable that these audits have become Quality CONTROL and not Quality Assurance schemes. The founder fathers of these schemes (namely Maitland Mackie and David Jack) created quality assurance in order to create higher standards of production and reward those producers who achieved .

Nowadays, as we all know, most quality assured Scottish producers receive more monies from the market by trading with England, and the Scottish label is irrelevant, despite all the hoops and hurdles suffered to achieve the Scotch Assured status. Maitland Mackie and David Jack never intended for these schemes to be so bureaucratic, time consuming and stressful, but rather that they should be a very simple exercise to demonstrate that farmers are good at what they do and ensure that the market would pay a premium.

Sadly, the Frankenstein monster called Quality Assurance (but is actually Quality Control) has now evolved and is devouring us and wrecking our lives. Meanwhile, we are importing food products world-wide which only required to meet the minimum import UK standard required, frequently have lower standards in comparison.

Do farmers need them ? Should farmers make their own arrangements with their own customer/market?

Whatever that customer/market requires if anything, consumers, understandably more than ever, are price driven and purchase mainly based on price and possibly presentation.

The assurance organisations have now become unaccountable, powerful and dictatorial organisations, offering little advantage to most producers. This entire scenario can best be likened to the Post Office Horizon scandal where sub-postmasters cruelly suffered at the hands of uncaring, self-preserving people in high powered places. Needless-to-say that the analogy here likens the farmer to that of the sub-postmaster. feel being treated no different from likes of the sub postmasters.

Hopefully, James Withers and his team doing this review will see what we all see, and make the right decision (maybe a democratic vote...) upon the future of these assurance organisations.

Change cannot come fast enough!

Patrick Sleigh, West Fingask, Oldmeldrum