The quest is on to find a new Scottish organic monitor farm.
Quality Meat Scotland and the Scottish Organic Producers Association are seeking nominations for mixed livestock/cereal organic farms located in the East of Scotland (including Aberdeenshire, Tayside and Perthshire); Central; South-East Scotland and the Borders.
The new farm will replace Balanloan Home Farm on Atholl Estates, Perthshire which recently reached the end of its three year participation in the monitor farm programme. It will also be supported by the Scottish Government Skills Development Scheme with sponsorship from Norvite Animal Nutrition.
“There has been considerable demand from Scottish organic farmers to find a farm to replace Balanloan and we very much hope the opportunity will arouse a lot of interest among organic farmers who produce both cereals and livestock,” said Julie Duncan, Director, SOPA.
The aim of the project is, by discussion and demonstration on the organic monitor farm, to emphasise the benefits of baseline monitoring and benchmarking the business.
That information is then used to improve the profitability of the monitor farm and other organic farm businesses. The information gained from the individual farm will also be used by the facilitator to provide information on farm business management to a wider Scottish audience.
“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.
“An organic 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 find out 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.” Facilitators are also being sought for the new organic monitor farm with facilitator applications closing on July 30 2010. The final date for monitor farm application submissions is Friday 20th August 2010.Further information on the monitor farm programme is available by visiting www.qmscotland.co.uk
Caption: Balanloan Farm on Atholl Estates has been Scotland’s organic monitor farm for the past three years – the quest is now on to find a replacement. Pictured are, from left, David Greer, Head of Rural Enterprises, Atholl Estates, Gordon Learmonth, grieve, Atholl Estates and George Scott, shepherd, Atholl Estates.
The project is looking for a farm, which is typical of the local area, and:
The farm system should be a typical mixed organic farm The farmer must be an assured member of the QMS Cattle and Sheep Scheme The farmer should be willing to open the books of the business to the facilitator who will explore key business data at Monitor Farm meetings. The farmer should be keen to discuss their hopes and aspirations for their dairy business with a group of neighbouring farmers. Farming must be the full time profession of at least one of the family members
A monitor farm is a three year commitment There will be up to five farm visits per year There will usually be one open farm day per year. The farmer will have a summary of discussions from the group and the lessons learned publicised nationally as part of the Monitor Farm Programme. The farm, where tenanted, needs to have the support from Landlord for the project
Dealing with visitors
There should be at least one spokesperson for the farm Facilities should be sufficient to cater for up to 70 visitors; e.g. car parking, covered area.
Invitation to nominate a farm to be the new organic monitor farm
Anyone can nominate a farm to be the new Monitor Farm by going to the QMS or SOPA websites www.qmscotland.co.uk or www.sopa.org.ukand filling in a nomination form with the farm name and address and some contact details, a brief farm description and why you’re nominating this farm.
Invitation to tender for facilitators for the new organic monitor farm
Rural professionals who are interested in becoming involved in facilitating the new monitor farm are also invited to find out more about what is involved. An invitation to tender for the facilitation of the new farm is now on the QMS and SOPA websites.