The winner of the first ever Scotch Beef Farm of the Year Award was unveiled today (Wednesday 21st November) at AgriScot by Rural Affairs Secretary Richard Lochhead.
Upper Nisbet Farm, near Jedburgh, run by Robert and Jacqueline Neill, was described as “ticking every box” during the presentation to announce the overall winner of the award, launched by AgriScot and Quality Meat Scotland in July this year.
The new award is aimed at showcasing excellence in the production of cattle in Scotland and raising the profile of the dedication and stock management skills behind the production of Scotch Beef.
The other two finalist farms who were also visited by the judges earlier this month were Perthshire-based Netherton Farm near Auchterarder, run by the McLaren family and East Lothian-based Cairndinnis Farm, near Haddington, run by Euan Smith.
Brian Turner, who has worked in top restaurants including Claridge’s, Simpson’s in the Strand and the Savoy Grill, joined judges Jim McLaren, Jim Brown and coordinator John Elliot, during the finalist farm visits. He described all three finalists as “dedicated, focused and experts in their field.”
During a presentation ceremony in the main ring at AgriScot Cabinet Secretary Richard Lochhead congratulated the three finalists.
“Scotland has a long-established and richly deserved reputation for excellence in breeding and finishing quality beef cattle,” said Mr Lochhead.
“I am pleased that the first Scotch Beef Farm of the Year award has attracted a high calibre of entrants from different types of beef enterprises across Scotland.
“Clearly the judges did not have an easy task and my thanks to AgriScot and Quality Meat Scotland for providing this platform to ensure the best of the best are recognised for their outstanding stockmanship. Their skills play a vital part in ensuring the continued success of the Scotch Beef brand - an iconic symbol of quality throughout the world.”
The Neills received a £500 cheque as well as a £250 voucher to celebrate their success at a Scotch Beef Club restaurant – the club run by QMS which has around 300 members committed to serving top quality Scotch Beef.
Andrew Moir, AgriScot Chairman said: “It is important that AgriScot showcases the very best of Scottish beef production and this new award fits well with the ethos of AgriScot as the leading business event.”
Jim McLaren, Chairman of Quality Meat Scotland said the judges had been impressed by the commitment and passion shown by all three finalists. “It was a pleasure for us to visit the farms and meet beef farmers who showed such energy, enthusiasm and focus. Their commitment to producing top quality Scotch Beef augers well for the future of our industry.”
During the visit to the three farms the assessors were looking for evidence of a high standard of technical and financial performance, uptake of new ideas to improve efficiency/profitability, a high level of health and welfare and a keen eye on the market for the end product. The assessors were also looking for evidence of the passion and enthusiasm by the farmer, and family and staff where relevant, to efficiently produce high quality animals.
All farms producing cattle destined to be used for meat sold under the Scotch Beef label – from breeders through to finishers - were eligible to apply for the new award and accordingly they were also required to be members of Quality Meat Scotland’s farm assurance scheme.
Note to editors:
Netherton Farm, run by the McLaren family, is a 320 acre unit including 40 pedigree Aberdeen Angus cows and heifers and 58 further cows and heifers as well as 81 calves and youngstock.
Cairndinnis Farm, run by Euan Smith, is a 480 acre beef finishing unit which finishes 300 – 400 cattle a year.
Upper Nisbet Farm, run by Robert and Jacqueline Neill, is a 1081 acre unit running 300 Limousin cross cows along with 10 pedigree Limousin cows, eight pedigree Limousin bulls and two pedigree British Blue bulls.
Caption: Front row from left: Robert and Jacqueline Neill, Euan Smith and William McLaren. Back row from left: Andrew Moir, Richard Lochhead and Jim McLaren.