Which Scottish farms exemplify the best in beef and sheep production? That is the question that the organisers of AgriScot want answered, as they open nominations for 2021's Scotch Beef and Scottish Sheep Farm of the Year awards.

Resuming after a hiatus due to the coronavirus pandemic, the awards, sponsored by Thorntons Solicitors and supported by Quality Meat Scotland, are intended to recognise the achievements, innovation and forward thinking of beef and sheep producers, and raise the profile of farmers who work hard to produce top-quality Scotch Beef PGI and Scotch Lamb PGI.

The last Scotch Beef Farm of the Year award was presented in 2019 to the family partnership of Alistair, Suzi, Margaret and Russell Kingan, of Kingan Farms, near Dumfries: “Winning the AgriScot award was just fantastic," said Suzi Kingan. "For ourselves and the team, it was really important to be acknowledged for all the hard work that we do."

Their operation is a beef finishing system with a turnover of approximately 1400 cattle per year on 475-hectares of owned and tenanted land across four locations. Alistair Kingan added: “There are other farmers out there that are doing equally as good a job as us and they should stand proud and put themselves forward for these awards. A lot of people don’t really understand what our day-to-day jobs are and the passion that’s in our industry."

Back in 2019, the Kingans' delight was mirrored by Kevin Stewart from Sharpitlaw Farm in Kelso, who was awarded AgriScot Scottish Sheep Farm of the Year.

Operating on 500-hectares across three predominantly upland units from a base at Sharpitlaw, the farms carry 1250 ewes, 315 gimmers, 950 ewe lambs, and 1080 feeding lambs.

“We applied for the award because we knew we did things a bit differently, but we also knew we were pretty good at it," said Kevin. “Winning it was wonderful recognition for a lot of years of hard work, not just by me but by the people that work with me as well."

The eventual recipients of both of the 2021 awards will each receive a £500 cheque plus a £250 voucher to celebrate their success at a restaurant in the Scotch Beef Club – the club run by QMS with members committed to serving top quality Scotch produce. The awards will be presented at AgriScot at Ingliston on Wednesday, November 17.

QMS chair Kate Rowell commented: "Red meat producers are driving some leading agri-innovation, on-farm and through the supply chain and the AgriScot awards are an opportunity to recognise some of the best of our industry and showcase the fantastic and progressive stock management skills the industry is renowned for.".

AgriScot chairman Robert Neill encouraged beef and sheep farmers across Scotland to nominate someone they know or apply themselves for either award: “No matter the size or location of your farm, breed of livestock, or grazing system, we strongly encourage entries from producers across the country.”

Kenneth Mackay, Partner and head of the Land and Rural Business team at Thorntons, added: “After what has been a challenging year for us all, we look forward to once again sponsoring the awards that celebrate and showcase the best of Scotland’s beef and lamb producers.”

Farmers can either apply themselves, or nominate, in confidence, other beef or sheep producers they feel are deserving of the title ‘AgriScot Scotch Beef Farm of the Year’ or ‘AgriScot Scottish Sheep Farm of the Year’.

To nominate a farm for either award, email the details to lstrang@qmscotland.co.uk