A recruitment campaign to establish nine new monitor farmers across Scotland is being launched this week.
The new monitor farms project, which will be funded by £1.25million secured from the Scottish Government and European Union’s Knowledge Transfer and Innovation Fund, will be run jointly by Quality Meat Scotland (QMS) and AHDB Cereals & Oilseeds.
The two organisations are looking for interested farmers in the following areas: Nithsdale; Scottish Borders; North Ayrshire; Lothians; Mearns & Angus; Lochaber; Morayshire; Sutherland; and The Northern Isles.
The aim of the programme is to establish farms, typical of their area, as monitor farms to help improve the profitability, productivity and sustainability of producers through practical demonstrations, the sharing of best practice and the discussion of up-to-date issues.
Cabinet Secretary for Rural Economy and Connectivity Fergus Ewing said: “New agricultural techniques and the uptake of innovation and technology can make a real difference to improve productivity and farm business profitability, and it is essential that they are available to Scottish producers.
“That is why the sharing of best practice, adoption of new ideas and research and development carried out at monitor farms is so important.
“I am pleased the Scottish Government is able to support this project through funding from the Scottish Rural Development Programme. I look forward to this ambitious new monitor farm programme playing a leading role in the transformational change of farm and rural business in Scotland to successfully meet the challenges ahead.”
QMS Head of Industry Development, Douglas Bell, said that monitor farms have established a strong track record in Scotland and the new programme would build on the success of the initial programme which launched in 2003.
“Previous programmes have taken a sectoral approach, but in order to address the challenges currently facing farmers, this new joint initiative between AHDB Cereals and Oilseeds and QMS will focus on improving whole business management and profitability,” said Mr Bell.
“While maximising returns at enterprise level will remain integral, the relationships between different enterprises will be explored at a business, technical and environmental level.”
Each of the nine new monitor farms will have its own management team and an associated business group that will evaluate solutions and best practice before sharing its findings, both with the wider community groups and more generally, through various media channels including a dedicated website.
Gavin Dick of AHDB Cereals & Oilseeds said “This new monitor farm project will have positive economic, environmental and social impacts right across Scottish agriculture. We’re taking the existing monitor farm scheme and giving it a bold new direction, in order to help Scottish farmers meet what could be a very challenging future.”
The criteria for selection specify that farming has to be the full-time profession of at least one of the family members and the farmers need to be willing to disclose information about their businesses with a group of neighbouring farmers and embrace the opportunity for innovation on their farms.
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.
For further information and to download an application form visit www.qmscotland.co.uk/monitor-farms-2016-2020