New chairman for Galloway farmers

Dumfries and Galloway Regions newly elected Chairman Rupert Shaw with Vice Chairman Alastair Martin.

Dumfries and Galloway Regions newly elected Chairman Rupert Shaw with Vice Chairman Alastair Martin.

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NFU Scotland’s Dumfries and Galloway region has a new chairman as Borgue farmer Rupert Shaw steps into the post.

Rupert’s Vice Chairman will be Alastair Martin, from Horseholm, Bankend, Dumfries. The pair were elected at the Region’s AGM, held in Castle Douglas on 16 February.

Farming at Gledpark since 2012, Rupert runs a Red Deer enterprise and was the first in the UK to become an Assured Park Venison producer.

Speaking after his appointment, Rupert said: “I aim to positively represent our region’s farmers as the backbone of this largely rural community when I meet with Government and other legislative stakeholders in my new role.

“We have a job to do in better explaining the importance of farming to those out with the sector in our region. I believe, as farmers, we produce something of real value: food. That is often overlooked in our increasingly unstable world.

“I also want to make sure that others benefit from NFU Scotland in the way that I have. As someone relatively new to the sector, I am open to other people’s good ideas and the union has been a key source of practical support to me through the many events I have either hosted or attended. That kind of help is invaluable.”

Gledpark was a Scottish Government Deer Farm Demonstration unit in 2015, allowing those interested in venison production to view the bespoke deer handling system Rupert has installed.

As a smaller farmer with a growing suckler herd of Galloways and Whitebred Shorthorns, Rupert has taken on seasonal grass lets to allow his enterprise to expand.

The power at Gledpark is provided by wind and solar systems which were showcased as part of the Union’s Renewables Development Initiative in 2014.

Rupert, who has been awarded an MBE, completed 24 years’ service in The Rifles Regiment in 2012. In his Army role, he operated in Longtown, Cumbria during the height of the Foot and Mouth Crisis of 2001. He has also completed a dissertation on the UK’s Food Security to gain a Master’s Degree and in his final Army appointment had oversight of the MoD’s only farm, securing its future through the last round of defence cuts.

He has been the Region’s representative on the Union’s Legal and Technical Committee since 2014 and is also a Trustee Director of The Solway Firth Partnership.

The region’s past Chairman, Gary Mitchell from West Galdenoch, Stranraer, has stepped down and is one of three farmers who will be contesting the position of Vice President at the Union’s forthcoming council meeting at the Radisson Blu Hotel in Glasgow on Tuesday 7 February. The Union’s AGM, conference and annual dinner will be staged at the same venue the day before (Monday 6 February).