A FREE meeting for farming new entrants being held in Perth later this month promises a packed agenda discussing new opportunities in the industry.

Taking place at Perth Racecourse on Tuesday February 28, the day's topics will include the resurgence in Scottish pig production, building a berry business and the new openings offered by tenancy reform.

In addition to experts from business, the event, which is being run under the Scottish Government’s new Farm Advisory Service programme, delivered by SAC Consulting, will be addressed by Cabinet Secretary for the Rural Economy and Connectivity, Fergus Ewing.

“We are really lucky in that Fergus Ewing has agreed to open the event,” said organiser Kirsten Williams from SAC Consulting’s Turriff office. “It will be a chance for new entrants of any age to hear at first hand the Scottish Government’s thinking on the future for new businesses. We are running the day under FAS and aim to bring new entrants together, to network and to highlight opportunities within the sector.”

Two industry chief executives will give presentations – Alan Laidlaw, chief executive for the Royal Highland and Agricultural Society, who was the former Head of Property for the Crown Estate, will invite his audience to think outside of the box. Meanwhile Scottish Pig Producers chief executive Andy McGowan will urge new starters to think about the business opportunities offered by the innovative pig sector.

There will also be discussions on the importance of building relationships between suppliers and farmers or farmers and customers, as well as details of the latest tenancy reforms and their implications for those setting up new businesses.

Ms Williams added that there was nothing better than learning from the experience of others: “Mark and Harriet Donald, who have a starter farm at Rhynaclach, Port of Menteith, will outline the progress of their first years, while Ross and Anna Mitchell, of Castleton near Stonehaven, will give their perspective on the berry business. Our event is all about explaining and exploring the opportunities”

While the meeting is free, places should be booked in advance through the FAS website www.fas.scot/events or by contacting the SAC Consulting office in St Boswells on 01835 823222 or email val.angus@sac.co.uk