Jen and Ben Win Their Way to Oxford

Young farmers from Dumfriesshire and Lanarkshire head to prestigious event

Two young farmers have won an NFU Scotland letter-writing competition and won their way to the prestigious Oxford Farming Conference, which this year is being held on the 3 to 5 January 2018 at Oxford University.

Chaired this year by Angus agri-businesswoman Caroline Millar, Oxford is an event that has grown in stature with a progressive programme of debates and events that captures both the innovation and the challenges faced by the sector.  The theme this year is ‘Embracing Change’ – a topic that chimes with NFU Scotland’s own series of documents on Brexit, entitled ‘CHANGE’.

NFU Scotland gave two members the opportunity to win their way to Oxford.  The winners, in return for their conference ticket, travel expenses and accommodation, will write a short piece for the Union’s membership magazine Scottish Farming Leader and commit to speaking at four NFUS regional events in the coming year.

To win, entrants were asked to write a short 300-word letter outlining what the opportunity to attend Oxford would mean to them.  From a bulging postbag, the winners were Jen Craig from Lanarkshire and Ben McClymont from Dumfriesshire.

Jen is chair of NFU Scotland’s Clydesdale Branch; a member of Forth and Clyde Regional Board and an invitee to the Union’s Less Favoured Areas Committee.  Jen also sits on the Union’s New Generation group.

Ben was brought up on the SRUC dairy research unit at Crichton Royal near Dumfries; is completing his BSc (Hons) in Agriculture and is very active in the Scottish Young Farmers movement.

Jen Craig said; “I got involved with NFU Scotland about 3 years ago now and it’s been a fantastic experience as well as a massive learning opportunity.  The number of incredibly passionate and knowledgeable people I have met has been brilliant.

“To be able to attend the Oxford Farming Conference with NFUS is a fantastic opportunity to gain more knowledge and meet more people as a young farmer.

“During these very uncertain, yet potentially exciting times for our industry, attending Oxford would widen my knowledge and allow me to bring that back home - not just to my business but to my roles within the organisation.”

Ben McClymont said: “As a delegate, I would hope to meet and engage with a variety of people including industry leaders, rural politicians, stakeholders, speakers, progressive farmers and like-minded enthusiastic young people as this would build links for my future within the rural sector.

“I have followed the OFC for a number of years on social media, and this year there is an excellent array of speakers attending, covering a variety of topics that I have an interest in.

Gary Mitchell, NFU Scotland Vice President who will attend the Oxford Farming Conference with Jen and Ben said; “The two winners are hugely enthusiastic about the future of farming. They know that we all need to change and adapt to circumstances.  

“The future for our industry is bright.  If we are to be the masters of our own destiny, it is up to us to change how the supply chain operates and to show the public the benefits that they receive from farming in our country.

“The Oxford Farming Conference is a great opportunity to hear what others are doing, share ideas and to help shape the future.”

Notes to Editors

  • A picture of the Oxford Conference competition winners Jen Craig and Ben McClymont with Vice President Gary Mitchell is available from
  • Ben McClymont has lived on a large Dairy Research Farm in Dumfries. Currently, he relief milks at home and works with a local agricultural contractor undertaking specialist services including umbilical slurry and on farm cereal processing. He is currently in his final year studying BSc (Hons) Agriculture. On completion of his degree, he plans to travel to see various farming systems around the world. His goal within agriculture is to be farming in his own right. He is involved in many groups including The Scottish Association of Young Farmers Agri and Rural affairs committee; Chairman of Lower Nithsdale YFC and has just recently returned from a SAYFC summer trip to China. He is a founding committee member of the SRUC Farm Management Society.  
  • Jen Craig works full time on the family hill farm in Crawford, South Lanarkshire. They have 1750 acres and go from 950ft at the steading up to just shy of 2000ft at the highest point.  They are running 1100 hefted Blackface ewes on the hill ground. The best of the ewe lambs are retained for stock and the rest sold for breeding while all the wedder lambs are sold store. There are 200 cross ewes which are Blackface x Charollais, tupped with the Beltex x Charollais.  The best of these lambs are finished on the farm with the rest going store. The farm recently invested in a Shearwell stock recorder along with the computer programme. This technology has allowed them to implement a strict culling policy through all the flocks to increase the quality and productivity of the ewes.


Contact Bob Carruth on 0131 472 4006

Author: Bob Carruth

Date Published:

News Article No.: 190/17

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About The Author

Bob Carruth

A dairy farmer’s son, I joined NFU Scotland in 1999 after 13 years as an agricultural journalist. Following spells as a regional manager and policy lead on milk, livestock and animal health and welfare, I became Communications Director in 2008.

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