SASCHA GRIERSON, a partner in her family’s organic farming and 'fledgling' agritourism business, has joined SAC Consulting to head up the Scottish Farm Business Survey.

A scientist by background, SAC Consulting said that Ms Grierson’s passion for how data shapes understanding, combined with her hands-on experience of building up her farm’s direct meat sales, will make her an 'ideal lead' for delivering the insights that the Scottish Government needs from the Survey.

“Our team of 14 surveys between 400 and 500 farms every year to gain a deep financial understanding of their businesses which informs the Scottish Government’s approach to agricultural policy,” explained Ms Grierson. “We have some big changes ahead – Brexit, increased digitisation and the use of ‘big data’ – and I felt that I wanted to be a part of tackling these big issues which is why I applied for the role.”

Head of SAC Consulting, Andrew Lacey, said: “Sascha epitomises our vision for SAC Consulting as our organisation moves forward, joining a team that lives and breathes the growth of our rural economy. She is a skilled practitioner, has wide-ranging experience and is a great communicator.

“With the changes that agriculture and the wider rural economy is facing, we must provide strong support to rural businesses in many new ways in the future. To do this we need a diverse, multi-skilled team of people who are deeply invested in Scotland’s communities, our land and our food and drink sectors.”

The Farm Business Survey now includes a carbon audit each of the farms, these are done using Agrecalc, SAC Consulting’s carbon auditing tool.

“There are many ways of measuring a business, including who is behind the business, what’s happening on the farm, for example with succession and also thinking about what we need to record about farms in the future, like the number of pollinators or birds that it supports,” she added.

“I’m looking forward to building the scope of the data that we collect and the way that it is presented to ensure that the best decisions are made on our findings.”

As a graduate of the Scottish Enterprise Rural Leadership Programme with strong connections in Scotland’s food and drink sector, Sascha says that she hopes her connections will be useful in the role.

“We have built a good business at home selling our own pork, lamb, beef and poultry, and our staff are great, so I felt that my understanding of the challenges of running a family farm could help me in what I’ll be doing now.”

Sascha farms with her husband, Hugh, they have a closed herd of Aberdeen Angus suckler cows, a flock of Easycare sheep, a small herd of homebred pigs, slow growing broilers and a flock of free-range organic laying hens.

“Hugh loves his cows and he is on the road of continual improvements,” Sascha said. “As an organic farmer he is always thinking about applying the best scientific and epidemiological techniques, about breeding improvements and the marketability of the meat. We have a tiny little farm shop, a slaughterhouse for the poultry and we sell online. We don’t consider ourselves as retailers, rather as being farmers that grow fantastic tasting food.”

During lockdown Sascha has been involved with the Scottish Agritourism Monitor Farm network. “A big part of the future of Scotland’s farms is how we monetise our assets, whether it’s the food we produce, the view or the landscape, and I’m very much looking forward to being a part of the future change in our rural economy.”