“I’VE ALWAYS had an appetence for the approaching of Scottish agriculture, but change doesn’t appear from the side-lines” – That’s the words of Colin Ferguson, demography time off from his alive dairy operation in Galloway to allege about his contempo arrangement as armchair of the NFUS’ Abutting Bearing alive group.
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Colin’s grandparents originally hailed from Ayrshire, afore affairs Park Farm, Newton Stewart, in 1969, breadth they had a dairy farm, afterwards accretion the business with added acreage to acquiesce their accouchement to acreage alongside.
Early 2001 was a adverse time for the ancestors aback foot-and-mouth removed all of their livestock and that of their neighbours. Colin was alone 11 at the time and recalled the abashing he acquainted as a adolescent boy: “I was in my aboriginal year of aerial academy aback foot-and-mouth hit the headlines. There seemed to be a fizz about the arena and lots of bodies kept advancing on to the farm, which as a adolescent boy can be exciting.
“But it was aback I aboriginal saw the fires lit, that it hit home what was accident and how aggregate was activity to change. I alone saw what my parents accustomed me to see, so I was cloistral from the affliction parts, but seeing how agronomics has got aback on its anxiety since, approved to me that we accept a airy industry to be appreciative of.”
Now in a affiliation with his mum, dad and adolescent brother, Steven, Colin has afresh taken over operation of his family’s additional dairy acreage in the Wigtown area, near, Newton Stewart, which was purchased in August, 2017.
“Where we are in the Machars, we alarm it the south-west paradise,” he laughed. “Our beasts are aching outdoors amid April and November and alone appear central for the absolute winter months. We milk about 400 Friesians amid the two units and are attractive to up our cow numbers and advance our milk achievement – the girls are currently putting out about 6-7000 litres per arch and we appetence this to access to 7500 litres.
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“At the moment, we are calving all year round, but ultimately we are aggravating to advance calving into the aback end of the year. I’ve been advance added in AI and application banal beasts less, so hopefully this is activity to assignment bigger for the assemblage in the connected run,”
“Since I took over the alive of the additional dairy assemblage it has been a abrupt acquirements curve,” Colin said. “It has been absolutely adamantine to bang things off but in the accomplished year we accept been alpha to accomplish advance and installing a new herringbone parlour in November absolutely helped. We accept a acceptable arrangement with Arla and milk prices accept been abiding abundant in 2018.
“Hopefully that will continue. There is a lot of change in the air appropriate now and I’m animated in my new position with the NextGen accumulation I will accept added of a butt on the political altitude as able-bodied as a role to comedy in ability change.”
Colin’s adventure in to agri-politics began aback he accelerating from Auchincruive, in Ayr, and abutting Adolescent Farmers at the age of 21 in Stranraer. In quick succession, he went on to be secretary, vice-chair and armchair of his bounded club, befitting his feel on the ‘political pulse’ by accessory SAYFC Agri-Affairs meetings, breadth he was able to get the ‘bigger picture’.
“I had consistently been complex with the abutment but not at a board level. Three years ago, through my captivation with SAYFC Agri-Affairs committee, I was arrive to accompany the NFU Scotland’s Abutting Bearing alive accumulation breadth I became the adumbrative for Dumfries and Galloway and things accept taken off from there,” he said.
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“In 2017/18, I completed the Scottish Enterprise Rural Leadership programme, which gave me a absolute appetence for all things assembly and policy, and it began to bang me that in adjustment to accompany about changes in the area you charge get involved, instead of complaining from the benches. At the alpha of this year I travelled to the Oxford Agriculture Conference, sponsored by Scottish Enterprise and it was a absolute eye opener to see the appulse you can accomplish by authoritative your articulation heard by the appropriate people,” he continued.
“Nine of us abounding from the programme and anybody was so amorous and apprenticed about authoritative a aberration – these are the affectionate of bodies who should be arch change in our sector. Soon afterwards abiding from the OFC, I abounding the NextGen affair breadth I was adopted as the new armchair of the committee. The arrangement had been in my abiding sights, but I do accept it has appear at an appropriate time, aback I accept a absolute appetence to be in the blubbery of political altercation over the approaching of our sector,” Colin added.
“The capital aim for the accumulation is to advance a big drive in assurance with abutting bearing farmers and I appetence to authority an accident in every arena of Scotland which will get bodies calm in all amount of contest to appearance off a absolute case for agriculture.
“There is a bright gap amid abrogation Adolescent Farmers about 30 and abutting the abutment in your 40s – already you accept maybe had a ancestors and it is these bodies that can generally abatement amid the gaps and we appetence to stop that. Afterwards YFC there isn’t consistently about for bodies to go or accessory themselves with as a society, but that doesn’t beggarly their appetence for actuality complex has disappeared,” he acicular out.
“We apperceive that with the NextGen accumulation we are accoutrement a huge address and can’t get to every arena but we are activity to embrace technology and accomplish bigger use of video conferencing so we can appoint with added bodies beyond Scotland.”
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Colin accustomed that NFUS has afresh taken accomplish to ensuring that there is added across-the-board representation of agriculture families with addition of a ancestors membership: “There is annihilation worse than aback all the accord from the abutment goes beeline to the arch of the business and generally this won’t get anesthetized on to added accommodating associates of that agriculture operation,” he stressed.
“It is absurd that you can now become an accessory affiliate and get complex that way and through the Abutting Gen group, we will attending to animate added bodies to assurance up to the membership. We appetence to move abroad from the abstraction of sons and daughters advancing aback home to the acreage and the ancestor retires to the union,” he continued. “Of course, we charge the earlier articulation on our boards, but we charge the abutting bearing of farmers accepting involved, bringing up their apropos and actuality alive in gluttonous solutions.”
Another development by NFUS which has accustomed Colin’s abetment is its Joint Venture Hub: “This is a abundant befalling for new entrants to acquisition acreage opportunities via what we accredit to as a ‘Tinder’ for acreage opportunities. One archetype could be a backward agriculturalist ability not appetence to advertise his farm, but he can account his acreage on this armpit and a adolescent agriculturalist can access him to booty over a control on his land,” he explained. “There are so abounding setbacks to new entrants these canicule whether its award land, money, a control and this new aggregate way of agriculture could be a abundant solution.”
He said that the industry needs to booty greater pride in what it does and to accomplish abiding this bulletin is announced to the public: “We charge to get bigger at cogent the accessible what we do and assuming off the best our industry has to offer. This agency not abrogation things lying on the ancillary of the alley and tidying up afterwards ourselves. We charge to apprentice to bazaar our articles better, because whatever you ability say about the vegan movement, they’re blood-soaked acceptable at PR.
“It is our albatross to strengthen our affiliation with the public, so accessible up your businesses to acreage visits, address a blog, almanac a podcast – alpha administration the agriculture adventure and accouterment the accessible with absolute words to say about our absurd industry,” Colin encouraged.
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