Over 140 Scottish sheep and beef farmers attended the QMS “Rising to the Challenges” conference on 17 May at Airth Castle, near Falkirk.
The objective of the free one-day event was to consider the current challenges that beef and sheep farmers face due to market volatility and reduced support payments, and explore ways that producers can offset the impact of these challenges including the potential to further improve efficiency.
The morning of the conference saw attendees taken on a journey down the supply chain, starting at the retail end, moving to processing and finally back to the farm. At each stage the current challenges that each part of the supply chain face was outlined as well as the factors that affect them and the opportunities which lie ahead.
The last speaker of the morning session was John Ritchie, a livestock farmer from Montalt farm near Dunning , who spoke about some of the changes he has made in recent years in order to increase efficiency, save money and improve his bottom line. During his presentation Mr Ritchie maintained that making improvements to his farm was a continuous process, but that he had made significant changes to his systems in the last few years which have helped improve his business.
The four speakers in the afternoon session highlighted some practical steps farmers can take to try and maximise their productivity and, ultimately, their profitability in response to the current challenges. Soil specialist Steve Townsend from Soil First Farming and Charlie Morgan from Grassmaster highlighted how farmers can best manage their soil and grass for optimum production. They were joined by Donald Brown from SRUC, Scotland’s Rural College, who discussed targeted nutritional strategies to help different cattle types meet market specification. Dewi Jones from Innovis then highlighted potential strategies for improving sheep margins.
For those who were unable to attend, the programme, speaker information and links to the presentations which were given on the day can be found on the right hand side of this page.