Quality Meat Scotland (QMS), with support from the NFU Scotland, has today 14 February 2012 launched a search for two new monitor farms and facilitators for the Forth and Clyde catchment areas.
The search is in response to demand from farmers in Forth and Clyde. As well as seeking two new livestock farms, the steering group is also looking for local, rural professionals who would be interested in coordinating these new monitor farm projects.
The aims of these two monitor farm projects are to improve the profitability, productivity and sustainability of livestock producers, principally within the Forth and Clyde catchments through practical demonstrations, the sharing of best practice and the discussion of up to date issues.
QMS Technical Projects Manager Peter Beattie explained that monitor farms are a platform for one farm in an area, supported by a community group of visiting farmers.
“The monitor farmer allows the facilitator to study the financial and performance figures of the business and establish the long-term aims of the farmer and then seeks to improve farm profitability through a process of peer review and advice, specialist input and support from the monitor farm facilitator.
“Some of this information is then shared and discussed at monitor farm meetings. These are held every couple of months over the three year period, with the main objectives being to bring local farmers and the agricultural industry together to focus on farm business improvements, efficient production and better returns from livestock enterprises,” said Mr Beattie.
The criteria for selection specify that farms need to be typical of livestock farms in the Forth and Clyde areas and assured members of the QMS Cattle and Sheep Scheme. Farming has to be the full-time profession of at least one of the family members and the farmers need to be keen to discuss their hopes and aspirations for their businesses with a group of neighbouring farmers.
The appointed facilitators will work with their monitor farmer to show how the use of accurate baseline and benchmarking information can help to improve the profitability of the monitor farm and other farm businesses in the area. They will use a combination of practical demonstrations, the sharing of best practice and the discussion of up to date issues to drive change within the community group of attending farmers. The information gained from the monitor farm projects will also be used by the facilitators to provide information on farm business management to a wider Scottish audience.
Chairman of NFU Scotland's Forth and Clyde Region Tom French said: "Having never previously had a monitor farm project in the area, I am absolutely delighted that funding has been secured for not one, but two monitor farms in the Forth and Clyde Region. “Farmers in this area have watched with interest the successful development of these projects in other parts and now they will have the opportunity to both host and participate directly. "Farmers are always keen to visit other farms and share ideas and information which might help the viability and ultimately the profitability within their own business. That is particularly important in times such as these when thankfully output prices are rising but unfortunately input costs are soaring. Being left with a positive margin at the end of the day is increasingly difficult but by sharing experiences through the monitor farm programme, I believe we can help farmers see a positive benefit to their business. "This is exciting news for farmers in the Forth and Clyde areas and I, for one, am looking forward to them getting off the ground."
The total cost of both projects is £186,800 with Skills Development Scotland awarding £131,800 of the cost as a contribution towards the establishment and management of the two new livestock monitor farms. QMS will contribute £45,000 with an additional ‘in-kind’ contribution of £44,500 which will be mainly for support and development.
Rural Affairs Secretary Richard Lochhead said: "Monitor farms bring local farmers and the agricultural industry together to focus on how farm businesses can be improved, with expert knowledge shared and profitability enhanced through the most up-to-date working practices. The programme has proven to increase market returns and improve operations in farming communities across Scotland, therefore I’m pleased this project is being expanded, with plans for new farms in the Forth and Clyde areas.”
The criteria for the selection of suitable facilitators require they possess and provide evidence of essential technical knowledge and behavioural skills, including:
• good interpersonal skills
• planning and organising skills
• a good understanding of Scottish agriculture
• data and information gathering, analysis and evaluation
• an ability to disseminate knowledge widely.
If you would like to submit a tender to facilitate one of the new monitor farms, please contact QMS Technical Projects Manager Peter Beattie at 07788 927 520 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you would like to nominate a monitor farm for either the Forth or Clyde areas contact Peter Beattie or the NFUS Regional Manager, Christine Cuthbertson on 0131 472 4013 email@example.com.
The deadline for submitting a tender to facilitate is Friday 9 March and to nominate or apply to be appointed as a Monitor Farmer is by early May.
For more information on monitor farms and to download the tender document, visit www.monitorfarms.co.uk
Caption: QMS Technical Projects Manager Peter Beattie