Each month we ask a young farmer for their views on farming and rural youth.This month we caught up with Gemma Duguid
Name: Gemma A Duguid.
Club: Strathbogie and Bower.
Where do you stay? Halkirk but originally born and bred in Foggie.
Do you hold or have you held any office-bearer roles at Young Farmers? I am currently ladies and tea convener for Bower and Caithness County chairwoman. I am also on the north committee and national council for the Scottish Association of Young Farmers Clubs (SAYFC). I was previously chairman and secretary of Strathbogie JAC.
Tell us about your background in agriculture: I’ve been brought up on a mixed family farm at Mains of Cranna and have always had a very keen interest. Dad was always taking me with him around the farm doing jobs, feeding neeps to sheep or sitting in sthe tractor ploughing.
What do you do for an occupation? After leaving school, I studied for three years at SAC Craibstone and graduated with my Degree in Agriculture. After leaving college I worked at Meadows Veterinary Practice at New Deer as a receptionist for a year and a half. Currently I work for Aberdeen and Northern Marts at Caithness Livestock Centre, which I started in January this year but previously was based at Thainstone.
What sparked your interest in agriculture? Being brought up on the farm I’ve always enjoyed working with the cattle and sheep, whether it be feeding, dosing, or lambing/calving. I do enjoy getting to drive the tractor for carting grain or silage. There’s nothing better on a fine night with some country tunes on.
What is the most rewarding thing about working in the farming industry?
My job is very rewarding, as I speak to a wide variety of people within the industry and outwith. I like hearing what the farmers are getting up to and take interest in what they are saying, hearing about the challenges they face and how they overcame them. There is always something new to learn and every day is a school day. The bit I most enjoy about working in the industry is seeing the farmer with a smile after he has sold his cattle/sheep because all his hard work and late nights have paid off.
As rural youth, do you think there is something we should be doing additionally or differently within the agricultural sector? It is very difficult for young people to get a start within the industry unless they are going to inherit the farm. There are schemes in place but I believe they are quite difficult to get. I feel there is very little encouragement at school to get people involved in industry. I feel we should be educating kids at school a lot more about where food comes about and the cooking of it. Let’s get back-to-basics home-cooked food.
Where do you see the farming sector in 10 years’ time? With the current Brexit situation no-one really knows where the industry will be. However, I do think technology will be more advanced yet again and hopefully all sectors will have better market potential.
If you could pass on one piece of advice to someone looking to get into the sector, what would it be?
Don’t be afraid of change, be willing to hard work and be prepared to listen.
We can’t end the interview without talking about Young Farmers so tell us about your experience – why did you join?
I joined to meet like-minded people, and I’ve always heard family speaking about Young Farmers and what they learned and gained from the organisation and thought this was up my street.
What do you enjoy most about Young Farmers? I enjoy all aspects of Young Farmers, whether it be taking part in stock judging, sports, baking or stewarding there is something for everyone. I enjoy taking part in the rally, Northern Spotlights and competitions weekend. My highlight has to be winning our first tug o’ war competition in seven years at the rally, National Country Cooks and travelling to Wales for an exchange. I very much enjoy the social side of Young Farmers too – everyone loves a Young Farmers night out.
How do you feel Young Farmers has impacted on your life? By boosting my confidence, organisational skills, being able speak in public, run meetings, time keeping and gaining more skills and knowledge within the industry. Young Farmers has given me the chance to go travelling, visit many places and learn new things in other countries. I have met friends for life from across the country.
Do you have any advice for someone looking to join? I would encourage anyone to join as this is a fantastic organisation with endless opportunities – there is something for everyone. Don’t be afraid, get involved, try new things, travel and experience. Someone once said to me “if your feet were meant to stay in the same place we would have roots not feet”.