Launch of new advice service for farmers

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While Brexit brings its own planning challenges for farming businesses in the Borders and Lothians, more immediate planning issues are also on the agenda for a free farmers’ meeting.

The meeting will be held at Lylestane Farm, Lauder, on Wednesday, November 9, at 10.45am. It is the first event under the Scottish Government’s new Farm Advisory Service (FAS) programme, delivered by specialists from SAC Consulting, part of Scotland’s Rural College.

For those planning next year’s harvest there will be advice on disease control and new cereal varieties. For farmers with grazing livestock there will be guidance on disease and the management of grazing and winter feed stocks. All those attending will also be keen to hear the latest information on world commodity prices and discussions on Brexit.

St Boswells-based Donald Dunbar, senior SAC consultant, explained: “Forward planning is a key to any successful business. Lylestane is an excellent mixed enterprise planting cereals and producing beef and lamb from the grass and forage crops grown on farm. It provides an excellent backdrop for our visiting experts to discuss winter grazing management, disease control in crops or livestock, as well as addressing a deficiency of cobalt, selenium and copper in soils, a problem facing quite a few farmers in the Lammermuirs.”

Those attending the Lylestane event, with a light lunch at Carfraemill Hotel, will hear more details of the local FAS programme before considering a series of other topics relevant to local farming conditions.

Donald added: ”We will be reminding farmers about the new priority river catchments to improve water quality, together with confirmation of how the EU expects them to comply with various CAP environmental rules or Cross Compliance.

“However, with Brexit looming, currency volatility and market uncertainty we expect there will be keen interest in the updates on world markets and intelligence.”

Scotland’s new Farm Advisory Service (FAS) runs until the end of December 2020. It forms part of the Scottish Rural Development Programme (SRDP) and is co-funded by the EU and Scottish Government. Awarded to SAC Consulting and Ricardo Energy and Environment, it is supported by a website and a helpline which is open from 9am to 5pm, Monday to Friday.

While the meeting at Lylestane next week is free, it would help those arranging the catering if anyone planning to attend books a place on the www.fas.scot website or phones that FAS advice-line on 0300 323 0161.