Farming is one of Scotland's essential industries. It helps us to feed ourselves, preserves and acts as the guardian of our countryside, makes our land productive, and employs and invests in rural communities.

But running a farm is tough right now. Those doing so are devotedly working in a sector which is under attack in a whole number of ways, from supply chain issues and low prices forced by the big supermarkets through to concern that the Tories at Westminster want to end the direct support payments which are so vital.

And at present, there's another worry.  Farmers are concerned about the speed at which they're receiving these payments from Europe, made under the Common Agricultural Policy. This year the money hasn't come through as quickly as they'd have liked or expected.

It's an issue which everyone is trying to solve - and, contrary to statements by some other politicians, it's not all the fault of the Scottish Government. The fact is that the way in which CAP is now being administered at the behest of Brussels has changed radically, and everyone is still trying to catch up with that.

The move to an area-based scheme - a big change - has been challenging and costly and delivery hasn't been easy. When England moved to it in 2005/6, payments to farmers were badly delayed, with just four per cent receiving money by the following March.

By contrast, here in Scotland, the Scottish Government has done a lot better. Over 50 per cent of farmers have now received their first payments. 

Yes, people in the industry have become accustomed to getting their money by December, but in fact delivery of the payment doesn't actually have to be made until the end of June.

 That having been said, everyone is pulling out all the stops - the Scottish Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs, Richard Lochhead, is fully committed to sending out support money as soon as possible, with extra delivery staff having been recruited and officials working seven days a week to facilitate payments.