Cultivating excellence at young farmers' event

farm tour as part of SAYFC Agri and Rural Affairs Committee conference
Norette Ferns

Over 100 members from Young Farmers's Clubs across Scotland gathered for the third annual Agri and Rural Affairs Conference recently.

The 'Cultivating Excellence' event run by the Scottish Association of Young Farmers' Clubs took place from 19 to 21 November in Aberdeen.

Young farmers enjoyed farm visits, breakout sessions, a workshop, panel session, networking and a thought-provoking presentation by RHASS Chief Executive Alan Laidlaw. His presentation set in a motion a theme that continued throughout the conference encouraging the young farmers to have confidence, passion and courage to take on challenges.

Mr Laidlaw said:

"If you don’t know your business and you don’t know yourself it will never thrive. Take time to listen, ask questions and find out what is frustrating the team and how together you can help the business.

“A report produced by Harvard Business School highlighted those who had a clear goal that was written down made ten times more income than those who did not.

"Networks are essential. A support network who understand you will notice your blind spots and won’t be afraid to tell you. Remember not every knock back is because of you, it could just be timing or because another opportunity is better suited to your goals."

Stuart Lamont from Islay YFC attended the event for the first time after taking a ferry and driving for five hours to get to the event.

He said:

"Having the opportunity to get together with like-minded people to share and discuss ideas has been incredibly worthwhile. It is great to speak to fellow peers as opposed to employers or the older generation, and it has provided me with the confidence to realise I am not the only one with these ideas."

Members had the option of visiting the poultry and arable unit ran by Craig Grant at Skillymarno, William Willis’s dairy enterprise at Glasgoforest or the beef and diversification operation at Marshall’s Farm. All three businesses recommended in-depth analysis of your financial figures and having a firm understanding of your costs. The full delegation then visited David and Sarah Stephen at Redhouse of Barra where taking a risk, looking ahead and engaging with the consumer were key messages.

We'll be producing a short video from the event, in the meantime you can get a flavour of the event in our trailer below.

Cultivating Excellence: Young Farmers Agri and Rural Affairs Conference 2016 - Trailer from ScottishRuralNetwork on Vimeo.