The next Shetland monitor farm meeting on Saturday, March 2 will focus on business management accounting, improving farm efficiency and preparation for calving and lambing.

At the meeting Karen Scholes from Scholes Chartered Accountants, in Kirkwall, will outline the tax aspects associated with running a farming business. She said: “Hopefully my presentation will help any farmer or crofter grow their existing business in a tax efficient manner.”

Mrs Scholes will also talk about the implications of the new “Making Tax Digital” (MTD) initiative from the HRMC.

“The MTD initiative is the government’s plan to digitise the tax system and will see one of the biggest changes to VAT in decades,” said Mrs Scholes.

She added: “From April 1, 2019, VAT-registered businesses with a taxable turnover above the VAT threshold will be required to keep digital records and submit VAT returns using compatible software.”

At the meeting, Mrs Scholes will highlight some of the software options for farmers to comply with this initiative and the possible impact on their business, as well as where to look for help as they make this transition.

Monitor farm facilitator Derek Hanton has conducted a comprehensive farm audit and looked at the last three years of production and financial data from Bigton, Shetland’s monitor farm. This included examining the different businesses enterprises to highlight potential areas for improvement.

At the meeting on March 2, Mr Hanton will present some of the findings from the audit, including the performance of the suckler herd over the last three years and the results and costings of the lambs Bigton bought in to finish on forage over the winter. He will also share the performance figures of the breeding flock over the last three years and lead a group discussion on how the Budges, and other farmers and crofters on Shetland, can increase their scanning, lambing, weaning and finishing percentages.

After lunch, Kirsty and Aimee Budge will update the group on developments at Bigton since the last meeting.

Finally, a vet from Shetland Vets will give some top tips for farmers and crofters preparing for the forthcoming calving and lambing period.

The Shetland Monitor Farm is one of nine monitor farms that have been established around Scotland in a joint initiative by Quality Meat Scotland (QMS) and AHDB Cereals & Oilseeds. The aim of the programme, which is funded by Scottish Government, is to help improve the productivity, profitability and sustainability of Scottish farm businesses.

The meeting on Saturday, March 2, which is free to attend, will begin at Bigton Hall at 11.00. Lunch will be provided, and the meeting will finish at approximately 3.00pm.

To book your attendance (and lunch) please contact Graham Fraser, SAC Consulting Lerwick on 01595 693520 or email

For more information about the monitor farm programme visit

Important role of red meat in children’s diets highlighted at Children in Scotland Conference

The important role of red meat in children’s diets is set to be part of a high-profile Children in Scotland conference being held at Queen Margaret University on Wednesday, March 20, 2019.

The conference “Biting back: Transforming food experiences for Scotland’s children”, sponsored by Quality Meat Scotland (QMS), Queen Margaret University and the Soil Association Scotland, will focus on the latest research, creative approaches and current projects aimed at improving the health and wellbeing of children and their families.

Conference delegates will hear from Joe Fitzpatrick MSP, Minister for Public Health, Sport and Wellbeing, practitioners and policy-makers in health, education and community planning as well as well-known food experts including The Great British Bake Off judge Prue Leith and multi-award winning chef Gary Maclean.

The event will be chaired by Prof Brigid Daniel, Children in Scotland board member and Dean of the School of Arts, Social Sciences and Management at Queen Margaret University.

Jennifer Robertson, QMS Health and Education Manager, is facilitating a workshop at the event focussing on the role of red meat in our children’s diets.

“Red meat is a great natural source of protein, iron, zinc and B vitamins and plays an important part of a healthy, balanced diet, said Mrs Robertson.

“The workshop will focus on how to incorporate lean red meat into children’s diets and affordable cuts for families on a budget. We will also look at de-bunking some myths about red meat, particularly around recommended portion sizes which, according to UK NHS guidelines, should be 70g per day or 500g per week.

“We will also look at the range of activities QMS offers to schools and community groups, including our successful Meat Voucher Scheme and some of the work that has been undertaken with our food education partners, encouraging delegates to get involved.” added Mrs Robertson.

For bookings and further information on the conference, visit, or call 0131 313 8828