Beef and sheep farmer Chris Cameron of Strone Farm, near Fort William is busy preparing to open his gates to the local farming community as part of a new Scotland wide-programme.
Strone Farm was recently announced as the Lochaber Monitor Farm and on Thursday 26th January will be holding the first in a series of free meetings.
The Lochaber Monitor Farm is one of nine monitor farms that have been established around Scotland in a joint initiative by Quality Meat Scotland (QMS) and AHDB Cereals & Oilseeds. The aim of the programme is to help improve the productivity, profitability and sustainability of Scottish farm businesses.
Strone Farm will be hosting a series of 18 meetings over the next three years as the Lochaber Monitor farm. The focus will be on the technical and financial challenges that their business, and many other farming businesses in the area, face.
The 1,200-hectare hill farm, located in the Great Glen, is run by Chris Cameron in partnership with his father Malcolm and mother Eileen. The family, who are tenants of Lochiel and Achnacarry Estate, runs 550 North Country Cheviot ewes and 40 pure Limousin cows.
They have already successfully introduced some changes, but they feel there is plenty of scope for the farm business to benefit further from fresh ideas which could improve the efficiency of the business.
Chris Cameron commented: “We are far from perfect and we know that there is plenty of scope to make improvements to our business through being part of the monitor farm project.
“We’re also really looking forward to sharing the benefits of having a monitor farm in Lochaber with other farmers in the area.”
Niall Campbell from SAC Consulting, a division of SRUC, Scotland’s Rural College and one of Lochaber Monitor Farm project facilitators, encouraged other farmers in the area to get involved with the monitor farm programme.
He said: “We are really excited to have a new monitor farm in Lochaber. Farmer-to-farmer learning, along with access to technical and expert speakers, has been proven to be the most successful way to share knowledge and best practice. This is a great opportunity, not just for Strone and farms locally, but for farmers everywhere to help improve business sustainability for the future.”
The first Lochaber Monitor Farm meeting will begin at 10.30am on Thursday 26th January and will be held at Strone Farm, Banavie, PH33 7PB, where Chris and Malcolm Cameron will give a brief tour of the farm and share information about their current sheep and cattle production.
The meeting will then move to nearby Moorings Hotel in Banavie, PH33 7LY for lunch after which, the group will hear about Strone’s grassland management and current finances. There will then be an opportunity for attendees to discuss the current strengths and weaknesses of Strone Farm and agree which aspects of the farm business should be developed in the short, medium and long term. Representatives from QMS and AHDB Cereals & Oilseeds will also give an overview of the monitor farm programme and how local farmers can get involved. The meeting will finish at 3.30pm.
To book your lunch please contact Niall Campbell or Morven MacArthur, by 12 noon on Monday 23rd January, on 01631 563093 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more information about the monitor farm programme visit www.qmscotland.co.uk or cereals.ahdb.org.uk.