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Scotland’s New Monitor Farms Gear up for First Meetings

Scotland’s nine new monitor farms are gearing up to open their gates to their local farming communities for their first open meetings which are set to take place around the country in the coming weeks.

At each of these launch meetings, which are free to attend and open to all, the host farmers will give an overview of their businesses and share their aspirations for the next three years as they focus on improving their production efficiency and business margins.

During the first meetings the facilitators for each farm will highlight the key aims of the programme which is being run jointly by Quality Meat Scotland (QMS) and AHDB Cereals & Oilseeds with funding from the Scottish Government and European Union’s Knowledge Transfer and Innovation Fund.

The objective of the Monitor Farm Scotland programme is to help improve the productivity, profitability and sustainability of farm businesses through practical demonstrations, the sharing of best practice and the group approach to addressing industry issues.

There will be an opportunity for local farmers to get involved with their local monitor farm and join the business group and management group which will be established for each farm.

Douglas Bell, Head of Industry Development at QMS is delighted with the diversity of farm types that are involved in the programme.

“The nine monitor farms that have been selected represent a wide range of farm and business types and range from traditional family farms to larger integrated agribusinesses,” said Mr Bell.

“The hosts themselves are a mix of farmers and farm managers, managing land held under   a range of land tenure options.  Some monitor farms are managed by younger farmers, some are in the process of succession and some are comparatively new entrants to farming.”

The locations of the monitor farms are diverse, with farms as far north as Sutherland and Shetland, stretching down to the Borders and also including Nithsdale, North Ayrshire, Lothians, Angus, Morayshire and Lochaber.

Gavin Dick of AHDB Cereals & Oilseeds was keen to highlight that, although spread across Scotland, the nine monitor farms will work closely together throughout the programme.

“The nine farms involved will be examining all aspects of their farm business and will establish a network of information that farmers across Scotland can access,” said Mr Dick.

He added: “This whole farm approach, while still maintaining sector specialisms, will help Scottish farmers to make real developments in changing farm business management practices, resulting in improved agricultural efficiency, environmental management and helping to mitigate climate change.”

The dates of each of the nine launch meetings are below. Further information about each of the events will be available from the facilitators listed below and on-line at www.qmscotland.co.uk/events

Nithsdale Monitor Farm Meeting - Thursday 26 January. Courtesy of Andrew and Aileen Marchant, Clonhie Farm, Penpont, Thornhill. For further information and to book your place contact Judith Hutchison on 07718 919055 / Judith.agridigm@icloud.com

Lochaber Monitor Farm Meeting - Thursday 26 January. Courtesy of Chris Cameron, Strone Farm, Banavie, Fort William. For further information and to book your place contact Niall Campbell or Morven MacArthur on 01631 563093 / FBSOban@sac.co.uk

North Ayrshire Monitor Farm Meeting - Wednesday 1 February. Courtesy of John Howie, Girtridge Farm, Dundonald, Ayrshire. For further information and to book your place contact Raymond Crerar or Carol-Anne Warnock, on 01292 525252 / FBSAyr@sac.co.uk

Shetland Monitor Farm Meeting - Saturday 4 February. Courtesy of Kirsty and Aimee Budge, Bigton Farm, Bigton, Shetland. For more information and to book your place contact Graham Fraser on 01595 693520 / frbslerwick@sac.co.uk

Morayshire Monitor Farm Meeting - Wednesday 8 February. Courtesy of Iain Green, Corskie Farm, Garmouth, Morayshire. For more information and to book your place contact Samantha Stewart on 01343 548787 / samantha.stewart@sac.co.uk or Derek Hanton on 01463 233266 / derek.hanton@sac.co.uk

Lothians Monitor Farm Meeting - Thursday 9 February. Courtesy of Bill Gray and Peter Eccles, Prestonhall and Saughland Farms, Pathhead. For further information and to book your place contact Colin MacPhail on 07747 046 461 / colin@macphailconsulting.co.uk.

Sutherland Monitor Farm Meeting - Thursday 9 February. Courtesy of Jason and Vic Ballantyne, Clynelish Farm, Brora, Sutherland. For further information and to book your place contact Cat MacGregor on 01847 892602 / FBSThurso@sac.co.uk

Borders Monitor Farm Meeting - Wednesday 22 February. Courtesy of the Mitchell family, Whitriggs Farm, Denholm, Hawick. For further information and to book your place contact Stephen Young on 07502 339613 / Stephen.young@saos.coop

Angus Monitor Farm Meeting – Monday 6 March. Courtesy of the Stodart family, Mill of Inverarity Farm, Inverarity, Forfar. For further information and to book your place contact David Ross on 01569762305 / David.Ross@sac.co.uk

For more information about the monitor farm programme visit www.qmscotland.co.uk or cereals.ahdb.org.uk.