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Chance to learn about ethical farming practice

Wilma and David Finlay from The Ethical Dairy.
Wilma and David Finlay from The Ethical Dairy.

Ten young women from across all sectors of agriculture will attend next month’s Ethical Farming Conference for free after applying for bursaries through the Scottish Government’s Regional Food Fund.

The opportunity was open to all new entrant farmers and young researchers.

However, only women applied and the successful applicants include smallholders and new entrant farmers, an animal welfare researcher, postgraduate researchers exploring issues around agri-environment, food security and animal behaviour, and vet students,

The May 16 conference will take place near Castle Douglas at Rainton Farm, home of the Ethical Dairy, the largest cow with calf dairy farm in Europe.

The event will explore issues including models of food production that focus on fair work for people and high welfare for livestock.

Conference organiser, Wilma Finlay, said she was delighted the bursary scheme had made the conference accessible to a knowledgeable group of young people.

“We’ve developed a conference programme that focuses on bringing together practice-based innovators with academics, to meaningfully address public concerns about a range of issues relating to livestock farming,” she said.

“One of the key things we want to explore is the transferability and scalability of sustainable and ethical farming systems, to challenge the widespread idea that regenerative farming can only be done on a small scale.

“Ethically produced food is an important emerging market and livestock farming needs to have a place within that market.”

Conference sessions will look at pasture management, soil, organic carbon and biodiversity.

Others will focus on the nutritional science of red meat and fats, animal welfare and public goods.

Keynote speakers include “regenerative” farmers Emry Birdwell and Deborah Clark from Texas; entrepreneur Nick Barnard of Rude Health; Mary Clear founder of Incredible Edible; Adele Jones of Sustainable Food Trust and Defra and Ruth Layton of the sustainability consultancy FAI Farms.

Input will also be provided by Scotland’s Rural College including Prof Sarah Skerratt, Prof Davy McCracken, Prof Christine Watson and Prof Francoise Wemelsfelder, as well as Dr Kathryn Ellis of Glasgow University’s School of Veterinary Medicine.

Ayrshire dairy farmer Bryce Cunningham of Mossgiel Farm will describe how he has gone “plastic free”, Denise Walton of Peelham Farm will tell of regenerative farming and USA-based holistic farmer, Will Winter will speak on grass-fed milk.

The conference will be opened by Mairi Gougeon, Minister for Rural Affairs and Natural Environment.

Booking information is available at www.ethicalfarming.org

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