Summer has not cared to appear so far this year and strawberries are scarce because of it, although looking at my bushes laden with slowly ripening fruit there is a lot to come and because of the slow ripening they are still incredibly sweet.

If you are passing through Scotland’s Larder in the Food Hall at the Highland Show you can try some for yourself at the Ava Berries stand. Luckily, the signs are that the sun will finally emerge just in time for the show. Hard on the heels of the show is the General Election. The last time a major political decision was made in late June was 2016 – the Brexit referendum.

Everyone was stumbling around shellshocked at the show the next day, and the atmosphere was very subdued. At least this time the voting comes after, so it might be a good chance to give any politicians at the show a proper inspection to check hooves have been trimmed, tails brushed, and wool carded before the judges make their final decision on July 4.

Who will be supreme champion, and who will be in seventh place? If the polls are accurate the winner is a done deal, but a worthy judge still casts his eye over all the stock in the pen – they have put in a lot of time and hard work to get there, so most of them deserve a once-over.

One obvious scragger has somehow crawled through the earlier rounds thanks to some terribly careless judging. He puts on a bold show, but Nigel Farage is largely responsible for Brexit which has caused so much economic and social damage over the past eight years. Yet, he struts around as if none of this is because of him. It’s offensive. Surely the judges in the champion’s ring will spot the soo mooth. There might be a strong baa but the gleaming fleece conceals a scrawny carcase, and buyer’s regret is a certainty.

The Conservatives and LibDems have both promised an extra £1 billion for agriculture. The Conservatives also have a five-year taper in their manifesto to end the seasonal worker scheme – a complete denial of reality – and a commitment that would do nothing whatsoever to reduce the immigration they are so obsessed with. The SNP have not yet unveiled their manifesto, but I’m guessing it will have something in it about independence. John Swinney has also promised it will be to the left of Labour. As far as devolved agriculture is concerned, they will remain in charge of it in any case at least until the Scottish Parliament election in 2026.

Because Labour are the likely winners, it is worth spending some time looking at their plans – disappointingly, they do not mention farming much in their manifesto, but there are a few interesting points.

Firstly, they plan to do away with age banding for wages and move towards the Real Living Wage, which will bring the rest of the UK into line with Scotland. Wage parity with England will help Scottish fruit and veg growers who are currently selling into the same market but must pay a higher wage than English growers.

On energy, Labour aim to double onshore wind and triple solar power and to invest in carbon capture storage, hydrogen, and long-term energy storage. All of these could present significant opportunities to Scottish farmers.

As well as a welcome commitment to deepen and strengthen ties to Europe, although without rejoining the customs union and single market or bringing back free movement, there were two other interesting snippets from the manifesto: “Labour recognises that food security is national security.”

There was also a commitment for: “Half of all food purchased across the public sector to be locally produced or certified to higher environmental standards.”

Labour are making some of the right noises, but how they will perform when they enter the ring? They haven’t been audited yet. Only when Labour have had a rigorous Marks & Spencer-style audit will we know if they are capable of bearing fruit.

I had a Marks & Spencer audit last week, and the auditor asked me for my record for cleaning field-picking trays, which I duly produced. That was all fine, but she then asked me how we cleaned the trays, and if I had a written procedure for it, and furthermore did I have a training record to show staff had been trained in the procedure? It felt like we had gone down a black hole – and the next question might be who trained the person who trained the people in the correct cleaning procedure? The lady who conducted the audit is well-respected and admired (including by me) throughout the food and farming industry, and I cast no aspersions on her whatsoever. She was doing her job as directed, and most of the questions were around food hygiene, which I think we can all agree is what the focus should be on.

Time is a scarce resource for the auditor and the grower.

It is worth picking up on it because I worry about the number of audits farming businesses are required to do each year. For most small and medium-sized businesses, key staff will spend weeks each year preparing for and undergoing audits, a significant cost in time and money.

I think they are extremely important and necessary to ensure public trust in the food we produce, but there is a huge amount of duplication of paperwork across the various audits, from QMS to SQC to Assured Produce and LEAF as well as the various retailer specific audits. One might produce the same document three times for three different auditors. There must be a better way.

One absentee from the show will be my father, who is having a cataract operation on Wednesday. Hopefully his restored sight will stop him running people over in his scooter. Mum and dad celebrated their 60th wedding anniversary last Saturday in the company of friends from across the country, many of them farmers who have achieved and seen so much in their time and continue to be active in their own businesses.

I don’t think I have ever seen so many inquisitive, interesting, fun-loving and energetic 80-something-year-olds in one place together. The Royal Highland Agricultural Society of Scotland should listen to and commission an annual report from sages like these on the state of agriculture. They still have much to offer, and their views are worth listening to.

As my father remarked after the party on a rather different matter, the older the fiddle the sweeter the tune.