Farmers cannot control the decisions politicians make on Brexit, but they can control how well-prepared their businesses are for any upcoming change, says Sarah Allison, Carnwath hill farmer and NFU Scotland next generation vice chair.
This week many of the Scottish farming community are getting ready to either participate in or visit Scotland’s finest rural showcase: The Royal Highland Show.
Attracting more than 180,000 people over the four days, it truly is a celebration of all the things we should treasure about rural Scotland.
The Show also coincided with the result of the Brexit vote in 2016, so in a way it is a good benchmark to measure how far we have come since that day two years ago.
I think it is fair to say the political situation we find ourselves in now is not where we thought we would be or would have wanted it to be.
Whether it is the SNP arguing with Westminster, the Lords arguing with the Commons, Remainers arguing with Brexiteers or Labour arguing with the Conservatives, nobody seems to be able to agree with each other.
Mrs May certainly has not been handed the easy road to take and the time to reach consensus and agreement is getting ever shorter.
Here in Scotland, agriculture and the rural economy has moved swiftly up the political agenda as the sticking points stopping the SNP Scottish Government for voting for legislative consent of the Brexit bill are largely agriculture-related.
Whether the refusal to allow this permission is good or bad depends on your degree of trust in Westminster, but with the clock ticking we want to avoid rushed legislation being pushed through at the end, so I hope both sides get back around the negotiating table soon to try and find common ground, for all our sakes.
In recent weeks we have also seen some hint of what a future rural and agricultural policy might look like, with the Agricultural Champions publishing their final recommendations, the National Council of Rural Advisors – of which I am a member – publishing their discussion document and Rural Economy Secretary Fergus Ewing setting out his proposals for the future on Wednesday (June 20).
This is an important opportunity for all rural Scotland to have their say in growing the rural economy and I would urge everyone to respond to the consultation.
As ever, when you are on the farm at home it is easy to forget about all the political noise going on in the background, largely out with our control.
What we can control is our own business fundamentals, which is what we as a family have been doing – paying attention to ensure financial agreements do not run on past 2019 so if there is a sudden drop in support we are better placed to manage it.
Being an extensive hill farm, we are more exposed to a drop in subsidy than we would like to be, so the next few months will be spent carefully constructing forward budgets for the next 2 years so we can have a good idea of how different scenarios will impact us.
Hopefully in that time the squabbling in the parliaments stop, and action starts!