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New Entrants Award: Against all odds

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New Entrants Award: Against all odds 

The British Farming Awards focus on British farmers discovering inspiring stories of people who have changed what they do and how they do it.

The Awards will reward the extraordinary breed of farmers who have made their business a success through sheer determination, grit and foresight.

This award welcomes entries from farmers and their families who have been in the industry for no more than three years.

Are you able to demonstrate resilience, tenacity, and determination in their attempt to pursue their own farm business? Regardless of size or scale, If you are a farmer who has started their business from scratch. 
 

Word from the sponsors - NFU

We understand how difficult starting a new business can be and so the NFU is proud to sponsor the New Entrants Award category and celebrate those that demonstrate the tenacity and determination to pursue their own farming business.

The NFU is the only organisation to continually champion the whole of British Farming at home and abroad providing advice, services and professional representation on the issues that affect farmers most. We ensure your voice gets heard and your issue gets addressed by the right people who can make a difference.

Our regional and local structure is the backbone of the NFU with over 250 local offices and more than 100 farming policy experts all working to support members in the here and now and secure the future of farming. Along with a strong business mind and determination, you can be a part of that future and the NFU is here to support you every step of the way.

Adam Wright, The Scottish Goat Meat Company 

It is fair to say that Adam Wright and partner, Victoria Gardiner, have had their fair share of challenges as new entrants to the farming industry.

But it is their shared tenacity and enthusiasm that has ensured they are now a force to be reckoned with.

The idea for goat meat came after Victoria had completed her dissertation in goat management and Adam decided to buy her two as a present for her 21st birthday.

There was a strong local interest from the beginning and over the last 18 months the couple have rapidly increased their predominantly Boer goat meat herd and now have 50 nannies.

They have been selling whole or half carcases and have recently begun producing burgers, sausages and other cuts for their website and under their brand The Scottish Goat Meat Company based at Hillhead Farm, Newmill, Keith.  

They also take meat to Scottish farmers’ markets and food festivals and produced £7,000 of goat meat for the Commonwealth Games after being approached. Payment is made upfront by all customers and, at the moment, all the goats are finished after this has been taken.

Challenges

Adam and Victoria bought their 27-acre hilltop farm last June but the purchase was far from straight forward. After losing out to a starter farm released by the Forestry Commission, they discovered an opportunity to buy Hillhead.

But at the eleventh hour, the agent and seller fell out and the property was taken off the market and with the agent refusing to give vendor details, the couple began trying to find him online.

Adam, who works full-time as an electrician after following advice from his father to gain a trade, says: “We traced his name and eventually found him to be living in Ireland. We wrote a letter and told him who we were, what we wanted to do with the farm and how we were building our business. We sent it recorded delivery but we heard nothing for five weeks.”

Out of the blue the vendor phoned the pair and asked to meet with them at the property after travelling over from Ireland. Hours later the trio had shaken on a deal and now they needed a mortgage.

Refused by the bank, they visited Adam’s building society, who he had been with since a child, and three hours later they walked out with a mortgage in place.

Sadly their happiness was short-lived after 40 of their breeding nannies and their kids were struck down with a fatal virus wiping out 50 per cent of their stock on farm.

Adam says: “It was a huge financial blow and to this day we have no idea what caused it even though we paid for lab and vet testing.

“You would literally be watching them fed at the trough in the field and you would turn your head and there would be another dead.”

Expansion

Left with just 18 breeding goats, the recovery has been slow. Recently, 30 young kids were bought from a dispersal sale and will be put to the billy later this year. A small flock of breeding ewes have also been purchased to cover any gaps in cash flow between goat meat sales.

The goats are usually finished around 12 months old at around 24kg and then sent to their local butchers – Macbeth’s – who pack and label all the cuts and posts out the meat as part of his online meat sales.

The couple currently live in a caravan on farm as they plough all their money into the farm to build new sheds and renovate the main farmhouse.

Looking to the future, the plan is to increase numbers to 300-head following the construction of the sheds and continue their marketing strategy to strengthen their customer base.  

“We hope to expand our customer base across the UK and we hope to inspire other new entrants into pursuing their farming ambitions, no matter how far away they seem.'

 

The winner will be anounced on awards night 23rd October 2014

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