Three exceptional sheep businesses have been unveiled today (Wednesday 6 November) as the finalists of the AgriScot Scottish Sheep Farm of the Year award, by AgriScot, Quality Meat Scotland (QMS) and award sponsors, Thorntons Solicitors.
The finalist farms, from the Borders and Ayrshire, were selected from a strong line-up of nominations this year. Whilst the businesses themselves are quite different, both are run by producers dedicated to producing first class, quality assured Scotch Lamb PGI.
The finalist farms are Sharpitlaw in Kelso run by Kevin Stewart, Orchardton Farm in Ayrshire run by James Nisbet, and Swinside Townfoot farm run by Peter and Vicki Hedley.
All three farm businesses share a commitment to constantly looking for ways to improve productivity and efficiency.
The aim of the AgriScot Scottish Sheep Farm of the Year Award is to showcase excellence in sheep production in Scotland and to raise the profile of the dedication of the Scottish sheep farmers who produce Scotch Lamb PGI.
The recipient will receive a £500 cheque as well as a £250 voucher to celebrate their success at a Scotch Beef Club restaurant. The club, run by QMS, has around 150 members committed to serving top quality Scotch Beef PGI. The award recipient will be revealed at AgriScot on Wednesday 20 November at noon in the main ring.
The assessors for the award this year are Hamish Dykes, AgriScot Board member, Kate Rowell, Chair of QMS and Neil McGowan, recipient of AgriScot Scottish Sheep Farm of the Year 2018 award.
Hamish Dykes, AgriScot Board member, said: “It was fantastic to see so many applications from a wide range of sheep enterprises across Scotland. The AgriScot Scottish Sheep Farm of the Year is a fantastic platform for help raise the profile of the dedication and passion of sheep farmers in Scotland who work hard to produce top-quality Scotch Lamb PGI the industry is renowned for.”
QMS Chair, Kate Rowell, added: “It was great to visit the three finalists where we examined all aspects of their business, from a high standard of technical and financial performance to the implementation of new ideas to improve efficiency and profitability.”
The assessors also looked to gauge the passion and enthusiasm of the farmer, and any family and staff who may also work on the farm, to efficiently produce high quality livestock.
Kenneth Mackay, Partner in the Land and Rural Business team Thorntons Solicitors said: “We are proud to be sponsors of both the Scottish Sheep Farm of the Year and Scotch Beef Farm of the Year awards. AgriScot is keen to recognise all elements of the agricultural sector and we are delighted to be able to help them achieve that goal.”
All farms producing lambs destined to be used for meat sold under the Scotch Lamb PGI label were eligible to apply for the award and accordingly they were also required to be members of QMS’s quality assurance scheme.