“OUR INDUSTRY is in very good hands with these young career farmers” – those were the words of Scotland’s Rural College’s new agriculture programme leader, Craig Davidson, after judging the winners of an inaugural Young Farmers competition in the Borders.

The top prize of the day went to former SRUC graduate Kirsty Cameron, who studied Vet Nursing at the Oatridge campus – she won the employee category of the competition. William Brown, who is employed at Broachrigg farm, Midlothian, was second in the employee category.

Kirsty has been working with sheep and deer at Mauldslie Farm, Midlothian, for three years, impressing judges with how she has overcome challenges in her work to accomplish her goals.

Michael Aitken, of Scotstounbank, West Linton, was the winner of the family farm category, with runner-up going to former SRUC student Gordon Pate, who studied Agriculture in Edinburgh.

Gordon works on the family sheep farm at Moorfoot, Midlothian where he introduced grassland management systems to the farm after spending two winters in New Zealand and a season working on combine harvesters in Australia.

The competition was organised by Peeblesshire Agriculture Discussion Society chair Hazel Brown and judged by SRUC’s former agriculture programme leader Bill Dingwall – who retired in 2018 after more than 30 years – and new lecturer Craig Davidson.

The judges visited 12 farms over the course of two days looking for young people who are ambitious, hardworking and equipped for a lifelong career in agriculture. The young farmers were also questioned about their knowledge of the business side of farming, and their use of technology in their day-to-day activities on the farm.

Ms Brown commented on the competition: “I was really impressed with the Young Farmers’ knowledge and enthusiasm for their work. They all took a big interest in what they were doing, they had their own ideas and were willing to listen to other people and learn from them. They are a really amazing and inspiring group of young people,” she enthused.

Mr Davidson, who joined SRUC after more than a decade working in a Californian high school, said: “I jumped at the chance to get involved as it gave me both an opportunity to visit local farms and to see the differences between our farmers here and in the USA.

“Every farm we visited was very different, as were the young farmers. They each had their own skill sets and had a different story to tell about where they had come from and their goals for the future,” he continued.

“This made it incredibly difficult to judge, but also showed that our industry is in very good hands with these young career farmers.”

PADS secretary Chris McDonald, of SAC Consulting concluded: “We wanted to encourage the future farmers of Peeblesshire. We were delighted with the response we got and the high standard of entries.”