‘Real Buzz’ at Scottish New Entrants Gathering

A vibrant audience gathered to hear from a strong line-up of speakers at this year’s New Entrants into Farming Gathering.

Organised under the Scottish Government’s Farm Advisory Service (FAS) programme, and delivered by specialists from SAC Consulting, part of Scotland’s Rural College (SRUC), the popular event returned to Perth Racecourse on Tuesday 27th February.

Kirsten Williams addresses the audience at the New Entrants Gathering at Perth Racecourse

Kirsten Williams addresses the audience at the New Entrants Gathering

Once again, the experience and energy emanating from the speakers stoked the fire of enthusiasm on a wintery day.

The large crowd were keen to hear from the first speaker of the day, Henry Graham, chairman of Lantra Scotland and one of the Champions advising the Scottish Government on a Future Strategy for Agriculture.

Mr Graham provided more detail on over 1,000ha of new land being made available, as announced the previous day by Cabinet Secretary Fergus Ewing.

SAC Consulting’s Kirsten Williams, new Entrants to Farming Programme co-ordinator and Gathering chair, said:
“This created a lot of interest and will hold great opportunity for some in the audience to get on to that first rung on the ladder. Just as importantly, Mr Graham laid out a need for a change in mind-set to achieve a successful future in farming, which set the tone for the rest of the day.”

Jim Booth, Head of Co-op Development at the Scottish Agricultural Organisation Society (SAOS), highlighted the strength in co-operation, whether it is informal or through structured co-ops. He noted that co-operation is currently stronger within larger farming units and that it had great potential for smaller farmers to gain economies of scale.

Maureen Muldowney, a Dumfriesshire dairy farmer, spoke of building a grass-based dairy business based on partnership agreements. Asked whether scale or the system was most important, Mrs Muldowney noted that having a clear and active business plan was important, and advised to “definitely keep it simple”.

That was something reiterated by other farmer speakers, Michael Shannon, Gordon Whiteford and Bob Prentice, who all recounted how they travelled and tapped into a lot of advice and positive farmers and professionals along the way in order to continue challenging their own ideas and to progress their farming dreams.

Linking to this, one of the last speakers of the afternoon was Kerry Allison from SAC Consulting’s Food & Drink Team. Drawing on years of industry and consultancy experience, her key message for the day was “remember the ‘why?’, why do you do what you do, and [when it comes to marketing] make sure you sell that passion”.

Kirsten Williams added:
“There was a real buzz in the room and the lunchtime networking session has never been busier, which says a lot. I’d like to say a big thank-you to the speakers and to everyone who came along. The feedback has been great and I hope everyone can take a lot of positivity from it.”


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