Business skills competition set to return to AgriScot

The cancellation of many of the summer’s farming shows and exhibitions has continued in recent weeks, but organisers of the leading winter get-together – Agriscot – have confirmed their intention to run the event in its normal format.

Robert Neill, who chairs the organising committee, said that plans for the AgriScot 2021 competitions were progressing - with a new sponsor announced for one of the event’s most important attractions, the business skills competition.

“We are determined that the competition will go ahead in 2021, after an enforced break in 2020 due to Covid,” said Neill.

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While the regional heats and the generous, ‘but well-deserved’ winner’s prize of £1000, meant that this was a relatively expensive competition for AgriScot to stage, Neill said this made the new sponsorship from NFU Mutual particularly welcome.

Commenting on the AgriScot event he said that while the board had been “blown away” by the number at last year’s on-line event, which had been far in excess of predictions, a live event would always be the first choice.

“The success of our 2020 event, despite the very difficult circumstances and a faltering start to the year, gives us the confidence to say that AgriScot 2021 will definitely go ahead on Wednesday November 17.

“Our preference is, naturally, for a physical event - welcoming everyone in person to a packed-out Royal Highland Centre. However, if lockdown restrictions prevent that happening, we are also very positive about the prospects for an online AgriScot on that date.”

The business skills competition, which is designed to encourage young people aged 16-26 to develop their farm and business management skills has seen many of previous winners of the competition come from the various SRUC campuses.

However, the organisers are keen to encourage young people from other educational institutions, modern apprenticeships and those already in the workplace to join college students in taking up the challenge.

“It is great to see SRUC students take up the challenge of the AgriScot business skills competition each year and I would encourage any SRUC student to do so again. However, it would also be great to see more young people from other educational institutions and indeed those already out in the workplace, come forward,” said Heather Kerr, who organises the various rounds.

Penny Montgomerie of the Scottish Association of Young Farmers Clubs backed the call for more to enter.

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“Young farmers tend to be very competitive by nature and our own annual competitions, including our Member of the Year, are testament to that. Our members have had consistent success with this competition in previous years and it would be great to see a SAYFC member take the title again in 2021.”

Mark McBrearty of NFU Mutual said it is important to support young people in agriculture.

“These young people will be the future of our industry and we’re delighted to be involved in this award which looks to inspire, challenge and reward them.