This year’s weather has shown exactly why Government must continue to financially support the agricultural sector, says Perthshire arable farmer and chair of NFU Scotland’s combinable crops committee Ian Sands.
The time has come again for me to contribute to the Brexit hub. l thought great, but then l thought what do l write because if the truth be told very little, if anything, has changed.
We still have no clue as to the circumstances we will be trading in. Whether we will have a trade deal with the rest of Europe or whether we will be trading under World Trade Organisation (WTO) rules.
What l have noticed is the number of meetings being set up to inform farmers and growers of what we should expect and what we should be thinking of doing to adjust.
It is usually the same old suspects who are speaking at these meetings and I am given to thinking it is more their opinion than anything else. Who really knows where we are heading?
Politicians certainly are not giving us any clues at the moment, even if they do know anything.
One thing which has become very clear this past year is financial support for agriculture in Britain is still very much required.
Never mind Brexit and whether it is under control or not. The one thing no politician can control is the weather.
It has tested farmers this year and will continue to do so well into next year, with silage pits far from full and yields of straw and grain well short of where they should be, making for a long and expensive winter for many.
Already the press is catching on to the fact that food prices will rise over the coming months.
Here’s hoping this makes the powers that be recognise support is still required, though what form that support will take is up for debate.
Where l farm, there are a large number of soft fruit growers who this year had to watch fruit going unpicked due to lack of labour coming over from Europe, as used to happen every year. Are they the first farmers to feel the financial impact of Brexit? l fear they may be.
Our Government must react to problems quickly and find sensible solutions. This will allow our industry to move forward and keep our high standards of production.
We cannot allow trade deals which allow cheap food to flood our shelves at very low prices and very low production standards.
British agriculture has excellent assurance schemes in place, which are undertaken voluntarily by the majority of farmers and growers.
Allowing lower standard produce to enter our food chain would not only endanger the public, but leave us unable to compete while we maintain our high standards.
The one thing that is for sure is things are going to change. All l hope for is that we get a good transitional period, giving us time to adjust and restructure.
Ian can be found tweeting at @ian_sands