ENSURING YOUNG farmers have a bright future and a seat at the decision-making table is at the heart of SAYFC’s Agri Affairs committee, and under the new leadership of South Lanarkshire farmer Andrew McGregor, he told The Scottish Farmer that he hopes to focus on improving profitability and sustainability in the Scottish farming industry.

Outgoing chairman Iain Wilson of Mearns JAC handed over the reins to Andrew at the recent AGM in Perth, reflecting on a busy year which has seen the profile of Agri Affairs grow in strength.

“We can’t ever underestimate the importance of SAYFC having ‘a seat at the table’ and being involved in the discussions which can ultimately change or influence wider policy and impact on the day-to-day lives of many of our members now and for years to come," said Mr Wilson.

“In our work hosting panel nights and arranging oversubscribed events and training days – we in turn have received constant invites to meetings with key policy makers across the UK and have begun attracting front page headlines from our activities."

The future of Agri Affairs looks to have been passed in to safe hands in new chairman Andrew, who hails from Eastlaw Farm, where he looks after 150 dairy cows, 300 ewes and grows 100 acres of winter wheat and spring barley. Despite a busy year ahead on his own farm where he has plans to build a young stock and dry cow shed, convert a straw pen into cubicles and dig a slurry lagoon, he explains that he is already excited and looking forward to seeing what Agri Affairs can achieve in the year ahead.

“Since coming into farming I have learnt so much from other farmers and great programmes such as the Tesco future farmer foundation and the cultivating leaders course and want to encourage others to embrace positive experiences which will enhance their learning and expand their outlook.

“It’s important to me that Young Farmers in Scotland are given the opportunity to gain the skills and knowledge to make sure we are up to the task of ensuring Scottish Agriculture remains thriving and sustainable far into the future,” he declared.

“I hope this year to focus on learning how to improve profitability and sustainability and we already have events planned in the immediate future such as a butchery demonstration evening at St Andrews on May 12, an agriculture innovation day in conjunction with Harbro, Mintlaw on May 18 and a visit to dairy farmer and tomato grower, Jim Shanks in Hawick, on June 15. Our key events this year are the ‘Young Farmer of the Year’ final on June 21, a summer road trip planned between July 19 -23 and our annual Agri Affairs conference on November 15-17.

“I am very pleased with the new committee so far, just over a week from the AGM and already they have been in contact with each other and are setting out their plan for the year ahead,” he concluded.

Andrew will be supported in his new role by newly elected vice-chairman Catherine Sloan, who formerly represented the east region of SAYFC Agri Affairs. The three new regional heads are Joanna Foubister in the north, Alistair Brunton in the east and John McCulloch in the west.