Lindsay Brown, NFU Scotland’s regional manager for Lothian and Borders, highlights issues currently facing local farmers.

The year started with a gloriously dry February, but March has turned out to be thoroughly miserable.

But regardless of the weather, the farming calendar still marches on.

The classic sign that spring has arrived is new young lambs gambling in the fields and it brings great happiness to anyone.

This is the result of long, hard days and nights. Not every lambing is straightforward and it is essential to be on hand to assist with any tricky situations 24/7.

Sheep can happily lamb indoors or outdoors but, if it is wet and cold, having shelter makes everything more comfortable – being able to put the mothers and babies in a pen together to make sure the lambs are feeding properly and the mother is accepting them, and after 24 hours they can be put out in the field together.

You will be seeing a lot more activity going on in the fields as tractors plough, sow and roll around the countryside.

Wheat, barley, oil seed rape, potatoes and many other crops are going in the ground for harvest in autumn.

Over the last few years there has been a significant rise in dog ownership and this spring may be the first time that you and your dog encounter young sheep and cattle.

The Scottish Outdoor Access Code states that you have a right to responsible access and you must keep your dog in close control.

Dogs running round fields of young animals can be very distressing; lambs get separated from their mothers, ewes can become stressed, this can be very distressing for everyone. Please avoid fields with young animals in them.

Because it has been a cold start to the year, this has slowed the growth of grass, which delays animals getting out onto grass fields to graze. This means extra costs for bedding straw and feeding, which is an unwelcome added expense.

The cost of everything has jumped considerably, with prices going up over 300 per cent in some cases. This has a serious impact on profitability.

Farming is a very unusual industry where farmers are told what price they will be given for their product and recently this has not covered the cost of production.

Empty supermarket shelves have been making the headlines recently, with shortages of eggs and salad items being rationed.

The shortage of eggs has come about because supermarkets were not prepared to pay a fair price to cover the increasing cost of production. Months ago, they were warned that the low prices were unsustainable for businesses to survive, so many farms were forced out of business or scaled back production. Supermarkets were quick to source eggs from outside the UK which do not have the UK’s high welfare standards.

We are all waiting for the countryside to burst into life when the weather improves and grasses, wildflowers and hedges will flourish and the bugs and the bees will appear.

Local farmers are working hard to produce sustainable, high-quality food while caring for biodiversity and changing practices to minimise the impact on the climate.

Look over the hedges and see what is going on in the fields.