Aspiring farmers were told “attitude is key” at an event for new entrants to the agricultural industry this week (Tuesday 26 February).
More than 100 people attended the sixth annual New Entrants to Farming Gathering at BT Murrayfield Stadium in Edinburgh to learn about the variety of different routes open to them.
The event was organised under the Scottish Government’s Farm Advisory Service (FAS) programme, and delivered by specialists from SAC Consulting – part of Scotland’s Rural College.
Speakers included successful new entrants, businesses who have added value, those who have found alternative routes into the industry, as well as agricultural professionals.
Andrew Marchant and his wife Aileen set up Clonhie Farm – a beef, sheep and deer farm business in Dumfries and Galloway – in 2012, and have since diversified by establishing a red deer enterprise in partnership with Buccleuch.
He said: “You must prove yourself and sell yourself. No-one owes you anything so get out there and earn it. Attitude is key and stand out from the crowd.”
He added: “You can do anything if you put your mind to it – we started with nothing. Be open minded and flexible. Don't be scared to take risks – we’ve made a hell of a lot of mistakes over the years but it’s only made us stronger.”
Graeme Jarron, who has turned his potato farm in Forfar to the production of the award-winning Ogilvy Vodka, took a similar theme when he told the audience: “If you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always have what you’ve already got.”
Giving the opening address, Chief Executive of the Scottish Association of Young Farmers Clubs (SAYFC) Penny Montgomerie advised people to be brave and ask questions.
“Build your networks and get out of your comfort zone,” she said, adding that she had a group of 20 people she could turn to for help.
Landowner Richard Rogers entered into a joint venture with one of his workers, Gethin Roberts, after converting his farm in North Wales from beef and sheep production to dairy.
He said that by giving Gethin a financial share of the dairy herd, he had the drive to push on and improve things for mutual benefit.
They ended their presentation with a slide which read: “Coming together is a beginning, keeping together is a progress, working together is a success.”
Other speakers included Kev Bevan, of SAC Consulting, who talked about business preparations for Brexit and what is likely to happen under various scenarios; Robert Taylor, of the Galbraith Group, who arranges loans for farmers; and Rebecca McEwen, who spoke about the journey undertaken by Arnprior Farm in Kippen from beef, sheep and arable towards growing pumpkins, swimming and glamping.
SAC Consulting’s Kirsten Williams, who chaired the event, said: “It was fantastic to hear such inspiring stories from our speakers. I hope their diverse range of backgrounds will encourage existing farmers to build resilience in their businesses and spur on others to enter the agricultural industry.”
For more information about the support offered to new entrants visit the FAS website.