4th May 2010

Lochhead Launches First Monitor Farm for Moray and Nairn

The twenty-fifth monitor farm in the history of the Scottish monitor farms programme was unveiled today (Tuesday May 4th) with the announcement of the first ever monitor farm for Moray and Nairn.

The Newlands family who farm at Cluny, near Forres are the latest monitor farmers in the project, supported by Quality Meat Scotland, the Scottish Government and several local sponsors with help from the NFUS.

Cluny is a 1060 acres (425ha), mixed, upland unit which runs 150 spring-calving and out wintered cows and 650 mostly Scotch Mule ewes. The farm also grows 150 acres of barley all retained on-farm as stock feed.

The business is run by Robbie Newlands in partnership with his wife, Kirsty, and father, also Robbie, The farm, appointed for three years, will be supported by monitor farm facilitators, Peter Cook and Colin Anderson.

Rural Affairs Cabinet Secretary, Richard Lochhead, congratulated the family on their appointment during his visit today to the farm, the majority of which is on Moray Estates.

“The appointment of Cluny is an important milestone for the highly successful Scottish monitor farm programme. As well as being the first monitor farm for this very important farming area it is the 25th farm to take part in the programme, since it started seven years ago,” said Mr Lochhead.

“The main objectives of a monitor farm are to bring local farmers and the agricultural industry together to focus on farm business improvements, efficient production and better profits from livestock enterprises and it is rewarding to see the project go from strength to strength.”

Peter Beattie, Technical Projects Manager with Quality Meat Scotland, said the new monitor farm has attracted the strong local sponsorship support - around £5000 a year will come from local companies in cash and in-kind.

“Local businesses ranging from vets to accountants and feed suppliers to auctioneers are all supporting the project which is a great indication of the growing value being placed on what monitor farms can deliver to the wider farming community. They also bring in local expertise and will expand the scope of the monitor farm to look at the whole market chain,” said Mr Beattie.

Recent monitor farm meetings in Caithness and Sutherland, Angus and the south-west of Scotland have attracted initial attendances of around 100 farmers and industry representatives.

The selection of the monitor farm for Moray and Nairn followed a thorough recruitment process which included an open meeting to give prospective monitor farmers a flavour of what its like to be part of the project.

Facilitator Peter Cook said the standard of applications for the role had been very high but Cluny was the favourite selected by the panel of local farmers, sponsors and the project facilitators.

“Cluny is a typical farm for the area which is crucial to allow the community group to share the benefits of improvements implemented on the Moray and Nairn Mmonitor farm. The family are also very enthusiastic about the project and their willingness to be open about their financial and performance objectives is also vital for its success,” said Mr Cook.

Robbie Newlands(jnr) said he was looking forward to the months ahead and sharing the decision-making to improve his business efficiency with the community group of farmers which will now gather at Cluny every two months.

“We aim to make a good job of what we are doing but there is always scope for improvement and I’m looking forward to taking our business to a new level as part of this project,” said Mr Newlands.

The first open meeting at Cluny is scheduled for June 9th. Further information about the Moray and Nairn monitor farm, including facilitators’ contact details, is available by visiting www.qmscotland.co.uk

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