‘It’s a challenging time for farmers’

garry Hamilton thinks the government should set up a frst-time buyers’ grant for budding young farmers with a decent business plan

Each month we ask a young farmer for their views on farming
and rural youth.

This month we caught up with Garry Hamilton of Harray YFC

  • Name: Garry Hamilton
  • Age: 28
  • Club: Harray YFC

Where do you stay: Gorn Farm, Harray, Orkney.

Do you hold or have you held any office-bearer roles at Young Farmers? I have been the chairman of Harray YFC four times and I am currently club president. I have also been district vice-chairman twice, currently being district chairman.

Tell us about your background in agriculture:

I have lived at Gorn pretty much my whole life where my granny’s family have farmed for over 300 years. I am now a partner in the business along with my mum and dad where we run around 60 crossbred cows that are in calf to either a British Blue or Limousin bull and then usually sell the young stock at the store sales in September, at Orkney Auction Mart. I also have a small flock of 20 pure Cheviot ewes.

What do you do for an occupation?

I am self-employed, doing digger work within the county and constructing farm buildings.

What sparked your interest in agriculture?

I’m not really sure what sparked my interest in farming. It just seems to have been a huge part of my life, for as long as I can remember. Some of my earliest memories include either feeding cattle or sitting in a tractor.

What is the most rewarding thing about working in the farming industry?

A rewarding thing for me would be if we could put the cattle out in April or May in 2018 instead of June or July and maybe a harvest that doesn’t require terra tyres or dual wheels or even tracks for that matter but that may be a big ask.

As rural youth, do you think there is something we should be doing additionally or differently within the agricultural sector?

The average age of the farming community is continually getting older and seems increasingly more difficult for young people to get into the industry as the bigger farmers snap up any available land. I believe the government should set up a first-time buyers’ grant for budding young farmers with a decent business plan. Certainly, in Orkney now, with farm prices as they are, it is nearly impossible for anyone to make a start in farming, unless they are in a position to inherit.

Where do you see the farming sector in 10 years times?

I am not sure anyone at this precise moment can tell us where the farming sector will be in 10 years’ time. All the politicians seemed to have the answers post Brexit but I have yet to hear of one who has any answers now. More so than ever, there is a huge amount of uncertainty within the industry which is challenging circumstances to manage any business in.

If you could pass on one piece of advice to someone looking to get into the sector what would it be?

I am not sure what advice I could give to anybody trying to get into farming. Probably do not mention it to your careers adviser at school, as they will definitely try changing your mind. It is a hard lifestyle so you really have to be passionate for what you do. During these difficult times, as an industry there is opportunity for innovation, which we will have to have in order to survive.

We can’t end the interview without talking about Young Farmers so tell us about your experience – why did you join?

I have been a member of Harray Young Farmers Club for 14 years now. It was a great way for me to meet like-minded people and learning new skills.

What do you most enjoy about Young Farmers?

I have thoroughly enjoyed my Young Farmers career. The social aspect of Young Farmers is a huge positive of the organisation. I have been able to meet like-minded people of all ages, and competing in a mix of competitions learning new skills that otherwise, I would not have had the opportunity to do.

How do you feel Young Farmers has impacted your life?

I have met many people from throughout Scotland, and beyond and I have been given the opportunity to represent my club and district, competing in stockjudging at the Royal Highland Show, and both junior and senior speechmaking at a national level. The skills I have learned throughout my years in Young Farmers are useful in everyday life.

Do you have any advice for someone looking to join? For anybody thinking about joining, do it. Get in touch with your local club and try to get involved in as much as you can. You only get out as much as what you put in.