Carnoustie hosts Farming Scotland conference

Roe deer, venison.
Roe deer, venison.

The 12th Annual Farming Scotland Conference took place yesterday (Thursday) in Carnoustie, providing attendees with inspiration and thought provoking debate on a wide range of farming issues.

The conference, sponsored by EQ Accountants, Bell Ingram, Thorntons Law and RBS, was entitled ‘Progress to Profit’ and, with a carefully chosen group of speakers, addressed issues of environmental policy, grain markets, mixed farming and the rise of venison production.

Prof. Nick Hanley, Environmental Economist at St Andrews University outlined some developing ideas in terms of how agri-environment policies can be improved, suggesting that farmer co-operation and the auctioning of contracts for the supply of biodiversity of ecosystem services have the potential to deliver outcomes rather than just actions as well as improve farming incomes.

Head of Procurement at Diageo International Supply, Angus Duncan, impressed the audience with the scale of Diageo, both within Scotland and worldwide, while highlighting the company’s commitment to the Scottish agricultural supply chain, as its largest customer, and their desire to ensure that Scotland continues to lead the world drinks industry.

Commercial venison farming currently only represents two per cent of the Scottish venison market, but with demand for venison among consumers increasing by 25 per cent per annum, speaker John Fletcher, deer farmer and vet, emphasised the potential for the Scottish farming industry to meet this demand at the same time giving itself a valuable diversification opportunity.

Jonathan Skinner, Farmers Weekly Young Farmer of the Year 2013 provided inspiration for farmers, young and old, demonstrating that with hard work, careful selection of activities and close monitoring of costs can lead to the fast but effective growth of a modern mixed farm.

Graeme Davidson, Partner at EQ Accountants LLP and Chairman of the Farming Scotland Conference, said at the conference: “I am delighted that our speakers were able to cover such a range of issues today and I think that attendees couldn’t fail to take a number of valuable ideas and thoughts back to their own businesses.

“It is evident that there are a number of existing and emerging opportunities for farming within Scotland, particularly the ability to influence effective agri-environment schemes, diversify into alternative sectors such as venison or poultry and embrace mixed farming which is, of course, so integral to Scottish agriculture.

“I should like to thank all of our conference sponsors, our speakers and our attendees and look forward to seeing them again next year.”