New Entrants Gathering 2018
Cabinet Secretary for the Rural Economy and Connectivity, Fergus Ewing was the keynote speaker at this year’s New Entrants to Farming Gathering held at Perth Racecourse.
The event – organised as part of the Scottish Government’s Farm Advisory Service – was aimed at Scotland’s farmers of the future and attracted a sell-out attendance.
He told the audience that he hopes to increase funding available to new entrants and young farmers fairly soon. Recognising that “it is clear that there is a greater appetite for support than we were able to satisfy with the original budget.”
In addition, the bigger point Cabinet Secretary also highlighted the establishment of the FONE group. The Farming Opportunities for New Entrants group has been brought together to coordinate talks with local councils, Forestry Commission Scotland, Scottish water and similar public bodies. The hope is to identify any additional public land that is not being utilised and could be made available for New Entrants. This adds a new and exciting dimension to the success of the small farms and small holdings made available to date by Forest Enterprise Scotland i.e. FCS.
Robert Logan of SAC Consulting, who chaired the event, said: “It was great to have the support of Fergus Ewing. We shouldn’t take the Scottish Government’s commitment for granted, through direct or indirect support – and it is up to all of us to make best use of that, to nurture farming aspirations.”
Fergus Ewing’s comment of “chart your own fate” was a common theme across other industry and farmer speakers – with Alan Laidlaw, Chief Executive of RHASS, posing the question to the audience: “Do you really know what you want?”
Young farmers looking to establish their own enterprise were urged to consider a move into pig production. Andy McGowan, chief executive of the Scottish Pig Producers, said there was scope to produce more pigs in Scotland.
Robert Logan added: “Supporting enthusiasm into the industry is a priority for Scottish Government but this should not mask the need for new, young or aspiring farmers to take control of their own destiny.”
Each of the inspiring speakers touched on the need go that extra mile, know your market and have a business plan that accounts for risk and volatility. And they stressed the key characteristics of the need for commitment; doing things differently; reacting to opportunities; and being adaptive to change.
Kirsten Williams, event organiser with SAC Consulting, said: “The feedback has been really positive. It says a lot about the appetite for new ideas when there is a full house at such an event.
“Comments after the meeting and on social media noted ‘a fantastic event with a wide range of speakers’; ‘short informative topics’; and ‘a very good day for new entrants’ – that says it all!”
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