Stow livestock farmer and NFU Scotland president, Nigel Miller has been awarded an honorary fellowship of Scotland’s Rural College for his contribution to agriculture and the rural economy.
Nigel was presented with his award during the annual SRUC graduation ceremony in Bute Hall, University of Glasgow last week.
SRUC acting chief executive Janet Swadling told graduates, staff, parents and guests: “To his passionate advocacy on behalf of Scottish agriculture and the rural economy, Nigel has brought energy, drive, academic rigour, powerful thought and considered analysis. Yet all this is done with a light touch, humour and humility. He has recognised the significance and challenges of climate change and the issues linked to it such as nutrient management, energy conservation and the need for behavioural change. These are all issues of real concern to SRUC, its staff and students and we share common ground with Nigel.”
Nigel, of Stagehall Farm, Stow, first qualified as a vet before returning to the family farm after veterinary practice in Rogart. And it was then he started to get involved in local union activity. He became NFU Scotland president in 2011.
In 2001, he joined veterinary teams in Dumfries and Galloway during the Foot-and-Mouth outbreak and experienced at first hand the devastating effect the disease had on stock, the farming community, vets and the local economy. He describes it as the most extreme experience of his life.
Following FMD, Nigel was asked by his local NFU to join a group looking into future disease control strategies. Since then he has played an influential role in shaping Scotland’s animal health and welfare contingency plans in Scotland, including responses to Bluetongue, Bovine TB and Schmallenberg.
He has been at the forefront of industry initiatives to keep out major threats like BVD and TB. In that work he has been an active and supportive partner of SRUC and the health schemes run by SAC Consulting Veterinary Services.
Nigel said: “For me to be a part of today’s ceremony is an extraordinary privilege. I hope that I can give something back to SRUC as it takes its next steps. I am sure that development can keep SRUC at the front of Scottish farming and also ensure its knowledge and science reach into Europe and worldwide.
“Today is very much a moment to focus on and celebrate the achievements of a new generation of graduates from SRUC.
“Knowledge, skills and science have never been at such a high level and they have never been more important to the future of farming. SRUC’s role, not only in education but also in research, is crucial in creating the people that can take agriculture to a new level.
“SRUC graduates have the challenge of making sustainable intensification real in the face of climate change, volatile markets and a demand for food which will double by 2050.”
The college gives Honorary Fellowships to individuals who have made “a commendable contribution to rural affairs and whose work is closely aligned with the objectives of SRUC”.