The former chief executive of ANM Group, Brian Pack, who died recently, was a hugely inspirational figure in Scottish agriculture and whose influence percolated right throughout the farming industry.

Tributes have been flowing in from government ministers and industry leaders, but just as important to him would have been the tributes from the many ordinary farmers he advised and helped over the years to see them through difficult times.

A family move to Balloch at the age of nine sparked his life-long love of farming after he started to help with the milking of the cows on a nearby dairy farm. All he wanted to do when leaving school was milk cows but a rare problem with a leg, which resulted in long periods off school and dogged him all his life – although he made light of it – ruled out a career in active farming.

But an involvement in farming still beckoned and after gaining a National Diploma in Agriculture (NDA) at the old West of Scotland College of Agriculture at Auchincruive, Ayr, he moved to Aberdeen in the early 1970s to take the Farm Business Organisation and Management (FBOM) course at the North of College of Agriculture (now part of SRUC) and his career took off.

He then joined the staff of the college as an investigating officer initially, before becoming an agricultural economist, where his communication skills, engaging personality and business acumen made him a highly popular and effective lecturer and adviser.

Brian took a year off in 1974/75 to study for a Masters in Agricultural Management at Reading University and it was there that he developed the agricultural calculator which transformed the financial management of farms at a time when the industry was facing difficult times.

For many years, he ran a week-long course at Douneside House, Tarland, to teach financial management, which was supported by the Clydesdale Bank, and later by other banks. This not only attracted farmers and farm managers but became a must for bankers, accountants, farm advisers and other professionals in the industry. Mr Pack’s sense of humour made it a fun week for participants as well as learning the intricacies of farm business financial management.

However, in 1982, he bid academia adieu to put his theories into practice, joining the late Maitland Mackie, at Westertown, Rothienorman, to manage the large-scale farming enterprise and milk processing and household milk delivery business as managing director of Mackie’s Dairies. He is credited with coming up with the idea for ice-cream manufacture and which is now the major part of the Mackie business.

He also managed and became a partner in FarmData, a small company set up by Mr Mackie to provide computerised financial services to farmers.

Eight years later, in 1990, he was appointed chief executive of the leading farmer’s co-operative, Aberdeen and Northern Marts, now ANM Group, and this is where he really emerged as a major figure and leader in the industry.

Thainstone Centre had just been opened and he completed a controversial rationalisation programme to close smaller country marts which started before he joined. He steered the company through the crisis of BSE and foot-and-mouth disease and the expansion of their meat processing businesses, including the acquisition of a major plant in Sheffield, as well as maintaining profitability and building a healthy balance sheet.

His services to the industry were recognised in 1999 with an OBE and he was awarded an honorary directorate from Aberdeen University in 2017 as a former member of the University Court and former governor of the Rowett Institute, now part of the university.

Following his retirement in 2008, it was not a surprise that he was invited by the Scottish Government to prepare a report on future agricultural policy and later one on reducing red tape in the industry. He was disappointed that none of the highly sensible recommendations in his last report were never implemented.

Away from his work in the industry, Brian was also a keen gardener and was proud of his little garden tractor and the results he produced at his home. He was also fine company both in and out of office hours and was a keen celebrant at agricultural shows and events throughout the UK, especially bemoaning the loss of the likes of the Royal and Smithfield shows, where he was known to hold court in an entertaining fashion.

Unfortunately, Mr Pack did not enjoy the best of health following his retirement and underwent a major operation three years ago in Edinburgh from which he never fully recovered. However, his death at the age of 74 was sudden and unexpected and a shock to his many friends in the farming industry.

He is survived by his wife Pam, and sons David and Allan.