The potential of Scotland’s Monitor Farm Programme to drive positive change and improve the productivity, profitability and sustainability of Scottish agriculture has been highlighted to MSPs.
An event at the Scottish Parliament this week focused on the aims and objectives of initiative which is funded by £1.25 million secured from the Scottish Government and European Union’s Knowledge Transfer and Innovation Fund, managed by Quality Meat Scotland (QMS) and AHDB Cereals & Oilseeds.
MSPs at the Holyrood event also welcomed the close collaboration between the two organisations to deliver the new project.
MSP Peter Chapman said that the partnership between QMS and AHDB Cereals & Oilseeds was key to the success of the project.
“The collaboration has allowed the programme to look at the farm business as a whole rather than different enterprises, and farmers and growers have responded very positively to the two levy bodies working together,” he said.
Representatives from eight of the nine chosen host farms – stretching from Shetland to the Borders - were at the event. They were joined by MSPs who were given an insight into the three year project which aims to drive positive change in the industry through what is likely to be a difficult few years.
AHDB Board Member George Lyon said: “The fact is that whatever the enterprise, farming is going through a challenging period and it is only likely to get more challenging. This makes the aims of the Monitor Farm Scotland programme – to make Scottish agriculture more productive, profitable and sustainable – more vital than ever.”
George also emphasised the need to support growers through a range of activities over and above the Monitor Farm Scotland Programme, including farmer and trade focused events, market analysis and market development and export opportunities.
QMS Chairman Jim McLaren said he was immensely encouraged by the initial response from farmers and crofters and the current hunger for information, inspiration and ideas.
“Trust is a crucial ingredient required to drive change. The fact that the monitor farm project is ‘farmer-led and farmer driven’ and based on an open-ness and a willingness to share information, and accept constructive criticism, is vital to its success.”
For Nithsdale Monitor Farmer Andrew Marchant, the programme is an opportunity to work with other farmers and make sure their business develops that much needed resilience.
“It has never been more important for farms to collaborate and share best practice,” Andrew explained.
“We need to develop our businesses in a way which is going to enable us to ride out the tough times and flourish in the good ones. We have a great group of forward thinking and progressive farmers here who are passionate about the monitor farm project and most importantly have the right attitude and enthusiasm to make an impact in the industry.”