A PARLIAMENTARY committee is this week visiting three dairy farms in Dumfries and Galloway.
It is part of the ongoing pre-legislative scrutiny for Holyrood’s Rural Affairs and Islands Committee of the Scottish Government’s proposals for future agriculture policy.
The committee is due to scrutinise the Agriculture Bill when it is introduced later this year and members are keen to learn more about different production methods used by farms of various sizes and the steps that can be taken to reduce environmental impact and restore biodiversity in their holdings.
Their itinerary includes Littleton Farm at Gatehouse of Fleet, owned by Robert Dodds. He employs 28 people and has a herd of 950 cows. It specialises in dairy production and is a supplier to Muller for butter, yogurt and milk. The farm has undergone significant investment in production technology and environmental management over the past decade.
At The Ethical Dairy on Rainton Farm, also in Gatehouse of Fleet, they will meet owner David Finlay who produces cheese from organic milk. He will also discuss the cow with calf model in use there since 2016.
The third stop is Torr Organic Dairy, a family-owned dairy farm at Auchencairn with a herd size of 170. Managed by brother and sister Ross and Lee Paton, it has been farmed organically for over 20 years with the intention “to show that organic farming can be done productively and profitably”.
The group will also pop into Carbon Capture Scotland, a leading carbon capture asset specialist in Crocketford.
Committee convener Finlay Carson MSP said: “These visits will help us really get to grips with issues surrounding the support farmers need in relation to CAP payments and to understand the opportunities and challenges that lie ahead for different farming systems. It’s crucial that we get to the root of what farmers need from future agriculture policy to best support their farms and help them provide for a just transition.
“This crucial ‘on the ground’ insight will help us better understand how future agriculture policy needs to work to allow the sector to flourish over many years to come.”