Agriscot draws crowds de­spite farming chal­lenges

The Oban Times - - Property / farming -

MORE THAN 11,500 peo­ple at­tended last week’s AgriScot event near Ed­in­burgh.

Billed as one of the UK’s big­gest and most pres­ti­gious farm busi­ness ex­hi­bi­tions and shows, AgriScot brings to­gether live­stock, farm sup­ply fi rms, agri­cul­tural ad­vis­ers and work­ing farm­ers un­der one roof at Inglis­ton for an an­nual coun­try­side show­case.

Among many high­lights, Isle of Mull stu­dent Claire Si­mon­etta, scooped £1,000 as she won the the AgriScot busi­ness skills com­pe­ti­tion. Pit­ted against three other fi nal­ists, Scot­tish Ru­ral Col­lege (SRUC) third-year stu­dent Claire gave the out­stand­ing pre­sen­ta­tion on a milk anal­y­sis tool for dairy farm­ers.

Claire, of Tor­loisk Farm, Ulva Ferry, de­scribed the com­pe­ti­tion as ‘a fan­tas­tic ex­pe­ri­ence’.

Else­where, the win­ner of the in­au­gu­ral AgriScot Scot­tish Sheep Farm of the Year award was awarded to Ar­madale in Suther­land.

Farmer Joyce Camp­bell runs the 5,600-acre hill farm with help from a part time con­tract shep­herd and her niece and nephew.

The farm sup­ports a flock of 780 Lairg-type north coun­try Cheviot ewes.

Richard Blake from Thorn­tons Solic­i­tors, judg­ing the com­pe­ti­tion, said: ‘Joyce and the Ar­madale team show fan­tas­tic com­mu­nity en­gage­ment in­clud­ing on­go­ing work with lo­cal schools and the Ru­ral Skills pro­gramme. They have reg­u­lar di­a­logue with mul­ti­ple re­tail­ers re­sult­ing in the re-in­tro­duc­tion of Scotch lamb on lo­cal shelves. ‘Joyce her­self is also ac­tive in en­cour­ag­ing the next gen­er­a­tion to be­come ac­tively in­volved in the farming op­er­a­tion and in show­cas­ing the farm and the Scot­tish sheep sec­tor to a na­tional and in­ter­na­tional au­di­ence by way of so­cial me­dia.’

The Isle of Bute had suc­cess as an Ayr­shire heifer won the in­ter­breed ‘Su­per Heifer’ award. Bred by J McAlister and Sons, Bruchag Farm, Bruchag Tal­ent Eve­lyn also won the cham­pi­onship at Bute Show ear­lier this year. Judg­ing at the show in Rothe­say that day was Ayr­shire farmer Gil­mour Lawrie, who promptly bought a half share in the win­ning beast.

An­drew Moir, AgriScot chair­man, said: ‘It has been very busy. There have been a lot of good vibes about the event and the sem­i­nars have been really pleas­ing, es­pe­cially the one at which the cab­i­net sec­re­tary, Richard Lochhead, spoke. I think there were more than 300 peo­ple at that sem­i­nar, keen to hear him speak about the forth­com­ing CAP re­form.

‘My gut feel­ing is that we have a sim­i­lar, or greater, num­ber of at­ten­dees as last year. The tim­ing of AgriScot is per­fect, given that most farm­ers can get away from the farm at this time of year. De­spite cur­rent chal­lenges, farm­ers still want to come along and learn what’s new in the in­dus­try and I’m par­tic­u­larly pleased to see so many younger farm­ers. Busi­ness is still be­ing done – where there are dif­fi­cul­ties, there will al­ways be op­por­tu­ni­ties and that is what AgriScot is all about.’

Claire Si­mon­etta with (left) ru­ral af­fairs sec­re­tary Richard Lochhead

and Alec Ross of spon­sors Bio­cell Agri.

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