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Stackyard News May 07

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Launch of Scotland’s Second Environmental Focus Farm

SAC launched its second Environmental Focus Farm today (25 May 2007) at Low Holehouse Farm, Ayrshire, courtesy of farmer Mr Willie Campbell.  Low Holehouse will act as a test bed where, in the context of regulatory measures and in a real farming situation, farmers can effectively and realistically address diffuse pollution in a practical dairy farming situation.

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Low Holehouse joins Mains of Balgavies in Angus as an Environmental Focus Farm in this initiative which is implemented through SAC’s “Success through Knowledge” programme and supported by the Scottish Executive Rural Directorate (formerly SEERAD). 

Environmental Focus Farms are commercial farms representative of the area that they are in and where the farmer agrees to allow his farm to act as a focus for a Community Group of farmers, consultants, and other rural professionals where ideas can be tried out.  Modelled on the highly successful “Monitor Farm” approach the objective of the Environmental Focus Farms initiative is to see a significant part of the programme driven by farmer needs and aspirations, with SAC providing technical assistance to meet farmer requirements. 

Speaking at the launch, SAC Chief Executive Professor Bill McKelvey said, “The issues of diffuse pollution and the use of nitrates have caused much debate and some considerable concern within the farming community.  It is vital that our response to new environmental regulations should not only be grounded in good science, but also be practical and acceptable to farmers.

“Low Holehouse in Ayrshire, like Mains of Balgavies in Angus, is in a Priority Catchment identified by SEPA.  It is our ambition to develop practical and economically viable solutions that are applicable, initially within these Priority Catchments, that may thereafter be applicable across other areas in Scotland.

“SAC is grateful to Mr Campbell for his willingness to open up his farm and act as host for this Environmental Focus Farms initiative and to the Scottish Executive Rural Directorate for its continued sponsorship.”

Speaking at the launch local MSP, John Scott, added, “Farmers have always looked after the countryside.  It is in their interest to do so. However a greater focus on environmental protection and evolving legislation is putting greater demands on them to make changes that will safeguard the environment still further. 

“I welcome SAC’s Environmental Focus farm initiative and its vision of involving the community in trying out new ideas and sharing best practice in the control of diffuse pollution and water quality improvement.

"I join Professor McKelvey in thanking Willie Campbell for allowing this important initiative to be based on his farm and look forward to positive business benefits for farmers in Ayrshire and beyond.”

Host farmer, Mr Willie Campbell said, "I anticipate this will be an excellent forum for farmers, environmentalists and regulators to exchange views and concerns with a common aim of enhancing our sustainable food production base while complying with good environmental standards"

link Launch of Scotland's First Environmental Focus Farm
link Who Will Pay For The Countryside?
link Agriculture key player to stop degradation of vital ecosystems

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