The political campaign must be affecting the weather as neither seem to be able to make up their minds.

Meanwhile, Northern Ireland is making headway with their future farm support schemes, targeting ‘slipper farmers’ to weed out inactive businesses from public support. Using a reference year to access support isn’t groundbreaking, but at least the Northern Irish are getting on with it.

In sharp contrast, here in Scotland, when The Scottish Farmer asked if there are plans to redefine activity or deploy new rules to focus payments on real farmers and crofters, we were treated to the usual guff. Yet more waffle about co-designing schemes with ARIOB and stakeholders, without giving even a hint of what is actually being planned or discussed.

We desperately need a definition of an active farmer or crofter, or we’ll keep bleeding precious support money to businesses that aren’t contributing enough to the rural economy. The Scottish Government has yet to answer whether they will remove the ‘alternative practice’ rules from future payments whereby payments can be triggered on land which conducts no farming whatsoever by undertaking an environmental assessment.

Increasing the minimum number of hectares to claim payments is a bold move in Ulster and could help focus money on actual farming activity. This was another question we put to the Scottish Government that fell on deaf ears. Smaller producers still need support, but it would be a good idea to pull them into a lighter regulatory scheme, so they aren’t crushed by the monumental levels of audits coming down the line for the rest of the industry.

And where exactly is all this information from soil sampling, carbon audits, animal welfare plans, and biodiversity audits ending up?

Let’s hope the politicians come to the Highland Show ready to explain some progress and not just announce yet another consultation or collaborative group. It’s been 10 years since we knew the rules would change following the Brexit vote in 2014. If the Government hasn’t listened to the industry enough to devise a plan by now, then clearly, co-creation isn’t working.

Without some direction and confidence, we’ll continue to see people leave farming. This week has seen yet more dispersal sales up and down the country from Orkney to Stirling. Each suckler represents £1000 to the local economy through feed merchants, stockman's wages, vet bills, and contractor invoices, to name just a few who make a living from the beef sector. When these herds go, they rip millions of pounds out of the rural economy, which can never be replaced.

One collaboration that needs to work is between AK Stoddart and Browns, who announced investment this week. The meat trade has been struggling, with several wholesalers sadly hitting the buffers. We need the Scottish-owned businesses in the red meat trade which are being dominated exclusively by Irish satellite plants.

Companies like AK Stoddart help build the Scottish beef identity in their pursuit of premium markets. If we are to regain our position at the top of the beef price charts, we need a clear focus and identity on what the cattle sector is aiming for.

These will be top talking points for those attending the Highland Show next week, which will be a great opportunity to instil some confidence in the farming sector. Failing that, at least the hot air will warm us up – just remember, The Scottish Farmer stand will still be selling woolly hats!