REAL life examples of how new entrants to farming set about getting into the industry was the focus of a conference held in Perth this week.

The New Entrants to Farming Gathering featured an impressive line-up of speakers, aimed at those who have just joined the industry or are planning to do so, to highlight the opportunities within farming and outline the kind of skills needed to succeed in the sector.

Former SRUC student and first generation farmer Gordon Whiteford shared his experiences as an egg producer at Lower Mill of Tynet, Buckie, where he now keeps 14,000 hens. Having started his career in farming in 2005, renting three acres of organic ground, he now has a 130 acre tenancy on the Fochabers Estate.

Gordon said: "As someone who didn't have a farm to go home to after school, it wasn't the easiest thing to get into the industry.

"Finance to start-up was stressful. I had to have confidence in my business plan and go for it. It was a big step, but every decision involves calculated risk, but – touch wood – it's been worth it so far.

"I think the main thing is if you're willing to take the risk, you have to be willing to work hard, not be silly with money, and be willing to be flexible," he said. "But at the end of the day, you have to enjoy the responsibility of being your own boss and getting to be in the fresh air!

“My parents actually tried to discourage me from going into farming, but I was too stubborn! We need to spread the positive message that there are plenty of opportunities out there and we need to encourage the next generation to enter the industry.”

Farmer, butcher and business owner Michael Shannon also told the event how he overcame the fact he didn't have a family farm to go back to.

He went from working for a wholesale seeds company, to buying his own farm in 1996, to now butchering his own cattle and lambs and selling the meat products online and from their own shop.

At his family farm near Biggar, Lanarkshire, Michael assumes the roles of “farmer, delivery boy, packer and salesman”, selling his own Aberdeen Angus and Texel Lamb online, and was eager to explain how new entrants can look at farming 'in a different way'.

“You don’t always have to do things one way just because people around you say, ‘we’ve aye done it like that!’," he declared. "I'm living, working proof that – yes there will be obstacles in the way – but if you set your mind to something, nothing has to be impossible."