This week, we caught up with RHASS chairman designate, Jim Warnock, on farming at Gartfinnan, running JDW Agri and his involvement with RHASS.

Can you give a bit of background about your 'day job' and how you first got involved with the agri sector?

My ‘day job’ is very varied – from the very ‘hands on’ feeding and looking after of our cattle and sheep on the farm at Gartfinnan, to looking after both my own and customers crops within our agri-supply business.

I am the second son of a farming family, so the odds of not being involved in agriculture were low! It has been a way of life.

You were the chief steward of the main ring at the Highland for many years, can you describe how you found that experience?

This was a hugely rewarding job as you are right in the heart of the show, connecting with a huge number of exhibitors during the week as they compete or parade their animals. It takes a great team of supporting staff to successfully pull this all together, both during the week of and in the weeks leading up to the show.

How did you first get involved with RHASS?

My first involvement was attending the Royal Highland Show with my dad and mum, initially getting a day of school to attend – then pleading for another day off to go back again!

The Young Farmers movement was next and I competed for many years at the show, making lots of friends along the way. Being part of the winning team for the Glasgow Herald Trophy in stockjudging was a major highlight.

I also then judged for YF and started stewarding in the cattle lines. These first steps at the Highland Show, alongside assisting with Stirling Show, led to my interest in the organisational side of shows and I started with a one-year directorship for RHASS and that led to where I am today.

You work closely with RHET – what are some of the benefits of inviting school pupils out on farm visits and to the show?

I am involved in RHET Forth Valley and have been for many years. The children gain so much from a farm visit –- many have never even been on a farm, let along touched a lamb, been up close to cows or sat on a tractor. All things that we as farming families take for granted.

The excitement of a bus load of children arriving on your farm is scary, but humbling. Classes send back thank you stories and pictures which are so detailed and makes you realise how much they do get from the trips.

However, for these trips to happen there is a great team behind them who organise, raise money and carry out risk assessments to allow these children to experience our farms. This is the hidden part of many RHET and RHASS activities, all carried out by enthusiastic volunteers who tirelessly give up their time to ensure everyone knows where our food comes from.

If children are lucky enough to get to the show, I am sure they will make memories which they will talk about forever. I still have my own memories and often hear my own children sharing theirs. Now, I have grandchildren who are also attending and looking forward to their annual visits.

As managing director of JDW Agri, it's a stressful time as the costs of inputs rises – how are you coping with the challenges this presents?

All businesses are feeling the costs of input rises at this time. The global situation has had its impact with covid pandemic and the Ukraine crisis, and as farmers we need valuable commodities to carry out our part of the food chain.

Without these products, our crops will suffer, so we, like all others, have had to look again at what we can do to make better choices.

Within my role as an agronomist, I use my years of experience to collaborate with my customers to achieve the best outcome for each and every one of them. This year with rising costs it has certainly not been easy for farmers and suppliers.

Thankfully, so far this year the weather pattern has been favourable for all crops.

You'll be taking the reins as RHASS chairman in July this year – how do you think the show will be different this year knowing you'll be at the helm next year?

I am under no illusion that being chairman of RHASS is a big job and as usual I will be ready for the challenge. The role is an important one, however more importantly I need to get it right for the board of directors who volunteer their free time all year and put in very full days at the show.

I need to make sure I listen to them, the wider staff team and, of course, RHASS members to ensure the best for all parties going forward. So, this year I will be making sure I am fully versed in what will be required of myself and I am sure this will be a steep learning curve.

Everyone involved has the same aim of being part of a successful society and show, so we have to make sure there are positive outcomes for everyone.

Finally, what are you most looking forward to at the show this year?

It will be great to get back to a degree of normality – I’m looking forward to catching up with friends and relations, seeing who wins the championships, listening to the roars at the stock judging prizegiving, the sounds of the heavy horse classes, and finally sitting down on the Sunday night, exhausted but delighted it has been another great year!