AGRISCOT'S annual search for the best of Scotland's livestock sector has officially begun, with the opening of nominations for both the Scotch Beef Farm of the Year and the Scottish Sheep Farm of the Year.

These awards aim to highlight the dedication, passion and skills of the cattle and sheep farmers in Scotland who work hard to produce top-quality Scotch Beef PGI and Scotch Lamb PGI. Sponsored by Thorntons Solicitors and supported by Quality Meat Scotland, the organisers of the awards are now encouraging livestock farmers and others involved in the industry to nominate the farms they feel are worthy of this year's top accolades.

The winners will each receive a £500 cheque plus a £250 voucher to celebrate their success at a restaurant in the Scotch Beef Club. The awards will be presented at AgriScot at Ingliston on Wednesday November 21.

Last year, Barnside Farm, near Duns, run by Charley and Andrea Walker, was declared AgriScot's Scottish Sheep Farm of the Year. The Walker's 250-hectare unit operates a low input, grass fed, organic farming system that supports 840 Easy Care ewes and 220 hoggs.

“To receive such a prestigious award as this was a great way to round off the farming year," said Mr Walker. "In an industry like farming, where we can often work alone for large parts of the year, being recognised by others as doing a good job is a huge boost.”

Their delight was mirrored by Robert Fleming, who runs Castle Sinniness Farm near Glenluce, which was announced as the AgriScot Scotch Beef Farm of the Year in 2017. Mr Fleming's farm runs a low-input grass and forage-based paddock grazed system which supports the main herd of 220 Aberdeen-Angus and Angus cross suckler cows plus a further 600 growing cattle under contract.

“It’s really encouraging to know that what you do is appreciated and that people think you have done a good job," said Mr Fleming, who farms in partnership with his father John and mother Rachael.

“I would definitely encourage others to apply for the award. If you enjoy what you do and you're passionate, then put your hat in the ring.”

AgriScot chairman Robert Neill encouraged beef and sheep farmers across Scotland to nominate someone they know or apply themselves: “Our industry is about to face one of the biggest challenges it has ever seen – Brexit. It has therefore never been more important to promote what we do in Scotland, so let’s shout from the hilltops about our industry. By entering these awards you can help promote livestock farming in Scotland.”

QMS director of industry development, Douglas Bell, said: “Entries are welcome from producers with different types of livestock enterprises across Scotland who can demonstrate enthusiasm and focus in providing efficient, profitable production of Scotch Beef and Lamb, coupled with excellent stock management skills.”

Kenneth Mackay, partner in the Land and Rural Business team at Thorntons Solicitors, added: “These awards are a great way to promote the efforts of farmers in Scotland and help build confidence in the future for all those working in the Scottish red meat industry.”

Farmers can either apply themselves, or nominate, in confidence, other beef or sheep producer they feel are deserving of the titles.

Those who supply services or products to the industry, from vets to feed manufacturers, as well as the others involved in the production chain such as processors, hauliers and auction markets, are also encouraged to nominate livestock farms which are examples of excellence in the industry.

To nominate a farm for either award, email the details to Applications forms are also available to download at