6th February 2014

Producers Welcome New Farm Business Resilience Initiative

A new farm business resilience initiative to assist farmers to “weather” unexpected set-backs and changes has received very positive feedback from the producers who took part in two pilot workshops in Aberdeenshire and Kinross.

A series of 30 workshops will now be held around the country to offer farmers the opportunity to take an invaluable step out of their daily workload and make time to prepare for the challenges and opportunities which lie ahead.

The unexpected events and shocks which can seriously challenge farm businesses range from extreme weather, loss of markets, price volatility, personal injury and illness. This sort of challenge is becoming increasingly common and for any business to thrive long-term, it will be more and more important to have the agility to deal with change and the resilience to cope with shocks.

The project is being supported by the Scottish Government through the Scottish Rural Development Programme (SRDP), Quality Meat Scotland (QMS) and Scottish Enterprise.  The workshops will be delivered by SAOS, SAC Consulting (part of SRUC), Smiths Gore and consultant Peter Cook who will together provide attendees with the latest thinking on farm business development from around the world.

“A real challenge for our industry is the fact so many farmers feel they are too busy and there is no slack in the system,” said Johnny Mackey, Head of Industry Development, QMS.

“The reality is, however, that to be successful those who operate thriving businesses in any type of industry are those who make time to think about their business. A key objective of this initiative is to assist farmers to deal with volatility, risk and uncertainty.”

One part of the workshop experience which has proved particularly popular with farmers is working with a coach to get a better understanding of their own personal resilience and how this affects relationships, the ability to make decisions and cope when under pressure.

“This part of the workshop has been incredibly well received during the pilot workshops,” said Jim Booth of SAOS, one of the organisations which will be delivering the workshops.

“It is the aspect of the workshops which farmers – from large operators to those operating much smaller businesses – said they enjoyed the most. As well as providing them with a very fresh and revealing personal insight, this exercise really opened their eyes to their attitudes to risk and opportunities.”

Berwick-based farmer, William Jackson of Shoreswood Farm, attended one of the pilot workshops and said it had given him a great deal to think about.

“The massive scale of the subject is beginning to dawn on me and I feel, now that you have brought it to my attention, I need to learn more! The subject matter could not be more appropriate for the current state of the industry which is facing significant opportunities but also very serious challenges and uncertainties.”

Aberdeenshire producer Peter Chapman (junior) of Redbog Farm, Strichen also attended one of the pilot workshops.

“These meetings will help to equip farmers to deal with the fallout from the CAP reform.  We all need to take time to plan and this workshop will help recognise risk, personal weaknesses and how to take advantage of future opportunities," said Mr Chapman.

Angus producer James Porter of Scryne, Carnoustie said he believed the initiative was a first for the industry.

“The workshop was intriguing as it made us look not just at external weaknesses in our businesses which need to be addressed, but also our own internal resilience and how we think and act under pressure.  I am not sure this has been addressed before in our industry. It was also very useful to discuss these things openly with fellow farmers.”

The workshops aim to develop people and challenge them to change the way they do things and create opportunities. One key message is that one of the best ways to build resilience is to work together and co-operate and the workshops encourage farmers and their families to start thinking about building resilience as a deliberate strategy.

Among the topics covered by the workshops will be:

  • How resilient is your business?
  • How to assess a farm’s risk bearing capacity;
  • Planning for unexpected events;
  • Looking for opportunities from upheaval;
  • Improving personal resilience and self-awareness;
  • How to build personal and business resilience.

Workshops will be taking place throughout Scotland. Initial dates include:

  • Tues 18th Feb     Stranraer
  • Wed 19th Feb      St Boswells  
  • Thurs 20th Feb   Keith
  • Thurs 20th Feb    Turriff
  • Fri 21st Feb        Black Isle
  • Mon 24th Feb     Finavon
  • Thurs 6th March  Finavon
  • Mon 10th Mar     Kinross

Booking is essential for each workshop and the 16 places will be allocated on a first come, first served basis. To book your place contact Kirsty at QMS on 0131 472 4040 or email info@qmscotland.co.uk with your name, address and telephone number, stating which of the roadshows you would like to attend. Each workshop starts at 10am and finishes at approximately at 3.30pm.  The cost is £20 per farm business (represented by up to three people) and this includes lunch.

Further details and future workshop dates and venues are available by visiting www.qmscotland.co.uk.

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