Former farmer Jim’s patch was Roxburghshire, Berwickshire and north Northumberland where he checked farmers were abiding by animal welfare, health, safety and other regulations for assurance schemes.
Stepping down at the end of last month, Jim said: “I’ve immensely enjoyed working with great colleagues and in such a rewarding role.”
Jim, 69, was first an agricultural engineer with John Rutherford and Son of Coldstream, specialising in the grain handling department, before joining the family farm, Crowfootbank, Swinton, in 1968 and completing his City & Guilds in Agriculture.
He enjoyed farming: “Farmers are just farmers, it’s more a way of life than anything else. Even the same job was never the same job each year because of the weather and various other bits and pieces.”
He and his two brothers were in partnership running mixed farms Crowfootbank and Dunslaw, Duns until they decided, because of age and ill health, to sell up in 1998. “I was in my early 50s and I needed something to do, “ he said.
Jim joined SFQC in October 1998, first assessing for the cereals scheme before joining the livestock team in 2001 when crop and Quality Meat Scotland assessments were integrated.
“It kept me in touch with what was going on,” said Jim, who had loved farming.
“The highlights were meeting so many people and you got to be on farms you would never have gone to.”
He’s visited over 1,000 units from north Aberdeenshire to Scotch Corner: “We verified that farmers were keeping up the (assurance scheme) standards - that they didn’t have wrecks of handling facilities, that feed was kept dry and out of muck, no chickens in it, that kind of thing. It also entailed keeping farmers up to speed with legislation. The rise in rules and regulations has been phenomenal.”
And his reception as the inspector? “It completely varied. Sometimes I would be welcomed: I was the guy who could point you in the right direction, compared to government officers who have real power to affect Single Farm Payments, even for a very slight mistake.
“There were one or two instances where I have been shouted and sworn at. But I tried to look behind them and there were usually reasons - they would be under huge pressure financially and probably from the weather.”
Jim has been married to Dorothy for over 40 years and the couple have two sons, George and Kerr, both in Berwickshire working, and seven-month old grandson, James.
The recently retired grandfather hopes to continue working for neighbour Bill Bracken at Swinton Greenriggs during busy times such as harvest.