The Cairngorms Farmers’ Forum is holding a meeting at the Conference Building at the Lecht Ski Resort, on Wednesday 6th April beginning at 7.15pm to inform farmers, rural businesses and potential facilitators of this new project. The meeting, to which all are welcome, will also discuss a timetable for the first meeting.“The main objectives of the monitor farm are to bring local farmers and the agricultural industry together to focus on farm business improvements, efficient production and better profits from the various farm enterprises,” said Peter Beattie, Technical Projects Manager at QMS.
Becoming a monitor farm is a three-year commitment for a farmer, supported by a facilitator, and a community group of engaged, local farmers.
The farmer works with the facilitator to study the financial and performance figures of the business and establish what the long-term aims of the farm are. Some of this information is then shared and discussed at monitor farm meetings, held every two months or so.
The new farm will follow in the footsteps of Eastfield Farm, which is farmed by Alan and Jack Adams and had been a Monitor Farm since 2007. Taking part in the project enabled the Adams to make some important decisions that will influence the business long after the project has ended.
At Eastfield the community group of local farmers helped the Adams decide to switch to selling stores as well as taking a decision to stick with current cow numbers, rather than increasing the herd size. This resulted in a more simple system, with reduced reliance on expensive purchased feeds and fertilisers, lower fixed costs and a scale that can be managed by one man
Since becoming a monitor farm Eastfield’s net profit has been consistently higher than average as a proportion of output. Key costs have been contained or reduced.
Mr Beattie added: “One of the highlights of each project is that the monitor farmer can make important decisions with a tremendous level of support from facilitators and the local group of farmers. In the case of Eastfield this was backed up with further support from local business, in particular their vet David Miskelly and the Cairngorms National Park Authority represented by Gordon McConachie.
“When the project ended everyone wanted an immediate replacement monitor farm in the East Cairngorms s we’re delighted to be launching the search today,” added Mr Beattie.
“It’s certain that the new farm will have local backing from farmers who will want to build on all that they have learned at Eastfield. The opportunity to be part of the project provides a unique opportunity for the next Cairngorms monitor farmer, if they’re prepared to be challenged in most supportive way imaginable”
Details of how to apply to facilitate the project and how to nominate a farm are on the QMS website here.