Young farmers look to future

An innovative event looking at the future of farming has seen Scotland’s farming union and young farmers look to further strengthen ties in the future.

The McConchie family, who have developed the Laggan Outdoors activity centre at Gatehouse of Fleet, played host to a NFU Scotland event, stage in conjunction with the Scottish Association of Young Farmers Clubs (SAYFC) looking at: ‘Future Farming for Success – What’s the future for young farmers in Dumfries and Galloway?’

Innovative young farmers - Duncan McConchie of Laggan Outdoor, Alan Blackwood of Ayrshire, Robert Craig of North East Cumbria and Duncan McEwan of West Stirlingshire - provided short talks to an audience of young farmers on what they do and how they have altered their farming practice to improve their businesses.

The group then discussed the challenge: “If the average age of a farmer in Dumfries and Galloway was 35 – rather than the current age of 55 - would things be different?”

With the success of the event, the region is now looking to work again with the SAYFC to strengthen relationships and help young farmers and workers in the area. Possible future events could include discussion groups, farm visits and collaboration with other stakeholders to provide assistance and guidance.

NFU Scotland Regional Chairman Gary Mitchell said: “I thought it was an excellent day of discussion and sharing from our speakers regarding their achievements along with the aspirations of the young farmers who attended.

“The one thing that became clear to me is that our future generation would benefit from linking up with good mentors to help encourage them in bringing their new ideas to our industry and to our union throughout Dumfries and Galloway and Scotland.”

Local young farmer Colin Ferguson, who represents Dumfries and Galloway on SAYFC’s Agri Affairs committee said: ‘It great to see the young farmers association in Dumfries and Galloway getting involved with the NFUS.

“I think we are tackling the stigma that it is only the older generation that attend meetings but reality is that there are more young people coming into the industry.

“This is something that the young farmers movement through the Agri Affairs committee has looked to tackle in the last three years. It has strived to give young people in the industry a voice and also provide training and opportunities.

“The meeting at Laggan was fantastic and the speakers did a tremendous job in inspiring the audience!”