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Tributes Flood In For Forward Thinking Castle Douglas Farmer – Donald Biggar OBE

Tributes from colleagues and friends have been flooding in for “forward-looking farmer”, Donald Biggar (68) from Castle Douglas, who sadly passed away at his home, Chapelton Farm at the weekend.

Scotland’s Rural College (SRUC) was saddened to learn of the death of former board member Donald Biggar at the weekend.
Described as a “forward-looking farmer”, Donald joined the Board of what was then the Scottish Agricultural College (SAC) in 2006.
He was Vice Chairman throughout SAC’s merger process with Barony, Elmwood and Oatridge Colleges and was heavily involved in the negotiations which eventually led to the formation of SRUC in 2012.
He finished serving on the SAC Board in October 2012, but remained a member of the SAC Commercial Board for a further two years.
Sandy Cumming, current Chairman of the SRUC Board, said: “It was with great sadness and shock that we learned of Donald’s death at the weekend.
He was a very successful, forward-looking farmer whose experience was invaluable on the SAC Board and his agricultural business acumen was a big influence on its strategy and direction. 
“As a local farmer, he paid particular attention to what was happening at Barony and at Crichton Royal Farm and he was always available to lend his advice and support. 
“He was a very fine man and a very effective member of the Board. The thoughts of everyone at SRUC are with Donald’s family and friends at this sad time.”
Mr Biggar was a lifelong member of NFU Scotland’s Stewartry branch, a member of the branch’s executive for more than 40 years and President of the branch in 1987/88.  Mr Biggar went on to serve as Area President in 1996/97.  The branch, which met virtually on Monday (1 February) held a minute’s silence as a mark of respect for its past chair.
NFUS Stewartry Branch secretary Michael Coutts recalls: “Donald was NFUS Area President at the time of the famous ‘Beef Blockades’ at Stranraer – a very challenging time for the Union.  He was the voice of reason and diplomacy when feelings were high and tempers too!!  Recognising the need for change within the Union, Donald was the proposer for Jim Walker’s nomination as President at the subsequent NFU Council Elections.
“His skills at chairing a meeting were legendary and his ability to let all have their say, sum up the whole discussion and arrive at a decision were a joy to behold, making the job of whoever was taking the minutes an easy one indeed.
“Donald was also very much involved locally at the time of Foot and Mouth in 2001.  Along with others, he represented Dumfries and Stewartry NFUS in meetings with the Regional Council in attempts to halt the spread of the disease and could be relied on to take a sensible and pragmatic view on proposals that were put forward.  He was often consulted at this time by officials from the Scottish Office as to implications of measures being put in place and was very much the local contact for them.   His own animals were taken fairly early on in the outbreak and he put a tremendous amount of work in – often unseen and certainly unrecognised by many of his fellow farmers – to ensure the best possible outcome for the local farming community in the worst of times.
“Although winning many prestigious awards and high prices for his pedigree stock, his commentary at the Grand Parade at both Dumfries Show and Stewartry Show was legend.  As with all tasks he undertook, he had done his homework and was able to provide an effortless and knowledgeable commentary on each animal and exhibitor as they came forward.
“Away from the farm, there are many who also knew Donald as a keen stalker, excellent shot and fisherman.
“He was a safe pair of hands, ever the diplomat but did not shy away when there was difficult work to be done.  Totally committed to Scottish agriculture and the running of his own family farming unit.  Very much a family man, and devoted to his wife Emma, and children Jamie, Rachel and Duncan, means that they are in our thoughts at this very sad time.”
NFU Scotland President Andrew McCornick who also farms in Dumfries and Galloway added: “There can be no doubt that the news of Donald’s death has left a huge hole in the industry.  There are few people who will have contributed more to Scottish farming at a local, regional, national and international level than Donald Biggar. 
“His lengthy list of achievements and contributions to the work of NFU Scotland, Quality Meat Scotland, SRUC (formerly SAC), West Cumberland Farmers, Smithfield Show, various show and breed societies and many more speak volumes of the abilities he held and his OBE for services to agriculture was fully merited.
“While organisations and politicians lined up to seek Donald’s sage counsel, he was always a farmer and a breeder of pedigree stock that were known world-wide.  While Foot and Mouth must have been a huge blow to the family, his abilities as a stockman saw him work alongside his family and team to rebuild his livestock enterprise to once again be the envy of many.
“He was always tremendous company and the thoughts of everyone at NFU Scotland, locally and nationally, are with Donald’s family and friends at this sad time.”

 

Donald, who was also Chair of Quality Meat Scotland from 2005 to 2011, died at his home, Chapelton Farm near Castle Douglas, on Saturday. He was 68.
He is survived by his wife Emma and children Jamie, Rachael and Duncan.