Orkney on the Monitor Farm Map

The inaugural meeting on Orkney’s first Monitor Farm has drawn more than seventy of the island’s farmers to Harray to participate in this groundbreaking new venture.

The monitor farm approach is now well established across Scotland. It utilises a facilitator to study the financial and performance figures of the monitor farm and establish the long-term aims of the farmer. It then seeks to improve farm profitability through a process of peer review from fellow farmers backed by advice, specialist input and facilitator support. Projects typically last three years, with on farm meetings involving the local group held every three or four months.

In February, Stephen Sandison, who runs 110 beef cows on 330 acres at Millburn Farm, Harray agreed to be the monitor farmer and today (Wednesday, 31 May) hosted the opening meeting.

Speaking at the event, NFU Scotland President Nigel Miller said:

“This is a great new opportunity for farmers on Orkney to push the boundaries on their farming businesses and further enhance the reputation that the area has for quality livestock production.

“In Stephen, we have a fantastic example of a new generation of farmer prepared to take on the challenging role of hosting a monitor group of his fellow farmers – a commitment that stretches to three years.

“Orkney has fantastic advantages in terms of livestock production but also faces huge challenges that come with farming in a more remote area.  At a policy level, we need to ensure that ongoing CAP reform and rural development discussions recognise the challenges of island farming and that the right levels of support continue to underpin family farm businesses, such as that run by Stephen.”

Orkney and Shetland Regional Chairman, Kevan Harvey added:

“The former ‘Farming for the Future’ programme on Orkney laid the groundwork for the island to also embrace the monitor farm concept and the fantastic turnout here today shows that the farming community was ready for that step.

“This is new ground for our members but for those who get involved in the community group, I fully expect that they will be able to draw something from the experience that not only helps Stephen take his farm forward but helps build and develop their own business.”  

Notes to Editors

  • Stephen Sandison of Millburn, Harray is Orkney’s first monitor farmer. NFUS will manage the three-year project and SAC will act as facilitators.  All monitor farm projects benefit from significant support, generally through the Scottish Government’s Skills Development Scotland fund.


Contact Bob Carruth on 0131 472 4006

Date Published:

News Article No.: 52/12

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