A well-known dairy farming couple from the north-east were yesterday crowned winners of the Royal Northern Agricultural Society (RNAS) good farming practice award.
The winners of this year’s award, which is sponsored by Aberdeenshire Council, are Roddy and Angela Catto of Hillhead of Muirton, Whitecairns.
The couple milk 115 cows, with all milk destined for Tesco via Muller, and the farm also carries an arable enterprise, small beef suckler herd and in recent years a 200kW biomass boiler has been installed.
Mr Catto is a well-known figure in the region through his role as NFU Scotland regional chairman for the north-east and chairman of Muller’s producer group.
Award judge Martin Birse, who manages Pitgaveny Farms, near Elgin, said all competitors to the competition were winners in their own right.
“It was a hard job and any of the applicants could be a winner. Everybody had something special in their business,” said Mr Birse.
“I chose Roddy and his family as the winner because I was looking for something a bit quirky. These are strange times we are farming in and I was looking for someone with a diverse income.”
He praised the family’s efforts to improve their quality of life by installing second-hand robotic milkers and said he was impressed by drive to diversify their business and create additional income streams.
Mr Birse chose the Watson family from Darnford Farm, near Banchory, as his runner-up.
The Watsons – Peter, sons Adam and David, and their wives Aynsley and Lynne – are no strangers to success and last year they won the Scotch Beef Farm of the Year award.
Mr Birse described Darnford as a “perfect business” and said he was in awe of the family’s impressive beef system, which comprises 440 Salers cross suckler cows plus followers.
Aberdeenshire Council deputy provost, Alison Grant, said both the Catto and Watson family farms demonstrated excellence in farm business management.
She said: “The enterprises represented set an outstanding example to others.”