A Roxburgh farm has given a royal welcome to Her Royal Highness Princess Anne as part of the Monitor Farm Programme, supported by Quality Meat Scotland (QMS) and AHDB.
JRB Wilson & Sons, Cowbog Farm – one of nine Monitor Farms in Scotland - hosted HRH, who is Patron of Scotch Chef’s Club, on Thursday 23rd March, showcasing the work the business is doing to advance the farming sector.
The Monitor Farm programme in Scotland, managed by QMS with support from AHDB, aims to help farms reach full economic, social, and environmental sustainability by optimising production through farmer led knowledge exchange with support from specialists and experts.
Cowbog farm in the Scottish Borders is a mixed tenanted, 242-hectacre farm of two holdings with a contract farming arrangement with Roxburgh Estates. Home to the Wilson family, son Robert and his wife Lucy run the business with the help of his parents Joan and Ron Wilson MBE.
All four were joined on the day by Deputy Lieutenant, John Jeffrey to give The Princess Royal a guided tour of the cattle and lambing sheds, fields as well as the farm’s agritourism venture enterprise.
In the cattle shed, Robert discussed his own cattle while Beth Alexander, Monitor Farm Programme Manager at QMS, explained the importance of the Monitor Farm project. Kate Rowell, QMS Chair, Sarah Millar, QMS Chief Executive and Tom Gibson, QMS Director of Market Development were also on hand to expand on the wider work being done to support Scotch Beef GI, Scotch Lamb GI and Specially Selected Pork.
Out in the field, Robert highlighted how cattle are playing a pivotal role in arable rotation and best practice with the help of the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board (AHDB) members Adrian James and Paul Flanagan. This year the field will be split as part of the Agri-Environment Climate Scheme (AECS) – a decision that will benefit wild bird cover and support biodiversity.
Jack Dalziel, Scottish Government Relationship Senior Adviser, was also in attendance and discussed with The Princes Royal the Scottish Government’s support for the agriculture sector through its funding of the Monitor Farm Scotland Programme through the Knowledge Transfer and Innovation Fund.
The topic of the new sheep enterprise was covered in the lambing shed, with children Henry and Lottie Wilson discussing their interest in the farm and upcoming lambing.
The final stop on the tour was The Old Stable where Lucy Wilson explained the foundation and growth of the business – Wilson’s Farm and Kitchen – and their vision for the future.
To commemorate the day and her support of the farming industry, The Princess Royal unveiled a plaque, signed the farm’s visitors’ book and planted a gum tree on the farm in honour of Lucy Wilson’s Australian heritage. She was also presented with a gift and flowers from Henry and Lottie Wilson.
Robert Wilson, of JRB Wilson & Sons, said: “It was an absolute privilege to have The Princess Royal visit Cowbog Farm and hear about the work we’re doing to improve farming practices in Scotland. There’s still much to be done, but it is reassuring to know that we have the support of Princess Anne as we continue to explore new opportunities and challenges.”
Beth Alexander, Monitor Farm Programme Manager, said: “It was an honour to meet The Princess Royal and discuss the diversity and potential of the Monitor Farm Programme with her.
“Our aim is to support Scottish farmers in adapting their businesses to become sustainable and resilient, and Cowbog Farm is just one of nine farms leading the way in achieving this – not just through best practice but by inspiring the next generation of farmers.”
Paul Flanagan, Director Stakeholder Engagement, AHDB said: “It was a pleasure to meet The Princess Royal and discuss the work that we at AHDB are doing at the farm as well as the broader work we’re doing with cereals and dairy levy payers across Scotland.”
Mairi Gougeon, Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs and Islands, said: “The Monitor Farm Programme is ideally placed to support the wider agricultural sector to optimise production and contribute to our food security, while helping meet our climate change and net zero targets. That’s why last year I announced a further £2 million to support the programme through the Scottish Government’s Knowledge Transfer and Innovation Fund.
“The nine participating farms in the programme are at the forefront of promoting peer-to-peer knowledge exchange and empowering farmers and crofters to overcome local, and indeed, global challenges.
“I am grateful to HRH Princess Anne for taking the time to visit the Wilson family’s farm in Kelso, which will help to highlight the importance of the Monitor Farm Programme and what it is delivering for the sector.
“I would encourage farmers and crofters to engage with the programme and benefit from the shared knowledge and experiences that come along with it.”
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