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Stackyard News Jan 06

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    Four Compete In Innovation Excellence Award Final

The NFU Scotland Innovation Award was established six years ago. The Award aims to encourage, recognise and reward those who have improved, changed or diversified their businesses through innovation or invention.

Common Agricultural Policy reform has meant that all farm businesses are required to become more market focussed and to produce what the consumer demands. In addition, due to poor market prices at present, farmers are looking for innovative ways in which they can diversify the business to enable them to remain profitable and to continue supporting the local community through employment and investment.

The Innovation Award attracted many entries from all over Scotland. The panel of judges, including staff from NFU Scotland and an independent judge, have shortlisted the entries to a final of four applicants who are currently being visited and now await the announcement of the results.

Once the winner and runner-up have been selected, the official announcement will be made at the NFU Scotland AGM on 2 March when they will be presented with their prizes. The winner receives £1000 and a plaque for the farmgate and the runner-up receives £250. In addition, both prize-winners and their partners will receive an all expenses paid night at the St Andrews Bay Hotel when they are presented with their prizes.

The four finalists are:

Calum McDiarmid - Calum and his family run Spirit of Wood in Aberfeldy, where they sell high quality furniture and household accessories from a renovated cow byre on their farm. The business supplies hotels, self-catering establishments and new build property developments, as well as the public. Calum's plans for the future include expanding the premises and increasing marketing activity.

Elizabeth Ramsay - Elizabeth, from Castle Douglas, founded Scottish Organic Lamb in 2002. She sells organic lamb, produced on farm, direct to consumers, hotels, restaurants, retail outlets and also via mail order. Already supplying Harvey Nicols, Elizabeth also hopes to supply Fortnum & Mason, Harrods and Nick Nairn's restaurant in the coming months.

Hilda Seator - from Orkney, Hilda runs a business making traditional Orkney farmhouse cheese from the milk produced by the family Friesian herd. Hilda sells the cheese through retailers, mail order and also sells directly to the public. In 2006, she plans to update the website and expand sales further within the USA.

Alistair Stewart - Alistair works on the family dairy farm near Kelso in the Borders. Alistair has diversified the business by setting up a yoghurt drink enterprise and, using the milk produced on farm, he produces natural fruit flavoured yoghurt drinks. Alistair currently sells through local farm shops but plans to expand by marketing through retailers Scotland wide.

Anna Davies, NFU Scotland Communications Officer, said:

"With agriculture being in the midst of great change at the moment, NFU Scotland feels it is as important as ever to reward those individuals or companies who are making a positive and forward looking impact upon the industry. More and more attention is also being turned to innovative farming and diversification as farmers become less and less reliant on support payments and more reliant on the marketplace.

"I am proud that NFUS is running the Excellence Awards again this year and I look forward to seeing yet another deserving winner in this category."

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