The new Data Protection Regulations (GDPR): Understanding your responsibilities

GDPR is coming into force soon, are you ready?

SAOS has organised two seminars specifically for members to help them understand their responsibilities regarding the new data protection regulations which come into force in May 2018. The aim of the seminars is to ensure participants have an improved understanding of what they need to do to prepare and comply with the new GDPR.

The seminars will be delivered by Peter Murray, partner at the law firm Ledingham Chalmers, based in Aberdeen.

There are two sessions available:

  • Wed 28th February – Huntingtower Hotel, by Perth
  • Tues 6th March – Thainstone House Hotel, by Inverurie.

Both seminars will commence with a buffet lunch at Midday with the session running from 12.45 – 3.30pm.

The cost to attend which includes catering is £50 plus VAT (Non-members £100 + VAT). To book a place please contact:  or Tel 07548 215669.

Numbers are limited to 20 places per seminar so booking early is advisable.

Useful background information

The Information Commissioner’s Office has lots of good information, a good start is the following guide:

Co?ops UK has produced an Employee Data Toolkit to guide co?ops through the key changes to the legislation, with a focus on how the GDPR applies in employment –

SAOS Conference 2018 Presentations now available

The presentations from last week’s SAOS conference are now available at


Douglas Watson receives Ed Rainy Brown Award for his commitment to collaboration and co-operation

The 2018 Ed Rainy Brown Memorial Award has been presented to Douglas Watson, an inspirational figure providing co-operative and collaborative support and development, particularly within local food and farmers markets. Katy Rainy Brown presented Douglas with the award at the SAOS Conference Dinner at Dunblane Hydro on Thursday 25th Jan.

Douglas joined SAOS as a Project manager in April 2000 and his first success was constituting the Scottish Association of Farmers’ Markets, later succeeded by the Farmers’ Markets Partnership, which supported the development of 75 farmers’ markets, with £18m of sales. Douglas’ unending enthusiasm for local foods stimulated its rapid growth to become a linchpin within the Scottish food and drink sector, and laid the foundations for its ambition and the overall success of the sector today. Douglas was a pioneer in understanding and communicating the importance for local foods embracing the social, economic, cultural, health and economic benefits it offers.

Douglas also developed the foundation governance course for co-op farmer directors. He brought the skills he had developed while a department head at Inverness College to design the course using a training needs evaluation system. Douglas inspired SAOS to be the first organisation to recognise how vital it is to have excellent governance driving success in our farm co-ops.

Tributes to Douglas’ work on behalf of SAOS’ co-op members and staff were led by Bob Yuill, SAOS Deputy Chief Executive, who announced the winner, commenting: “SAOS has been immeasurably enhanced by Douglas’ enthusiasm, dedication and remarkable social skills and, in particular, his networks throughout the West Coast and Scottish islands.”

“The local food networks and farmers markets Douglas has helped to nurture and develop mean that we have a vibrant and exciting local food culture in in Scotland that we can be positive about and proud of. Apart from his vision and professionalism, what I and his other SAOS colleagues admire most about Douglas, is his wonderful story telling and ever present good humour.”

George Lawrie, SAOS Chairman, added: “Douglas’ contribution to SAOS and our farm co-ops has been immense. Douglas has an innate business acumen that assists many of our co-ops, none less so than as Company Secretary to Scottish Shellfish, one of our most successful co-ops.”

“He is ever the enthusiast and innovator and constantly seeks possible improvements and new initiatives, such as the rural skills internship and encouraging our early adoption of an enhanced website presence and use of social media.”

NFU Scotland Vice President, Gary Mitchell, said: “The future brings a great deal of uncertainty and the potential for volatility. Douglas has a long and hugely successful track record in fostering the collaboration and co-operation that will be increasingly needed between producers, the food industry and the consumer if we are to grow and thrive in the post-Brexit era.”

SAOS Winter Update now online

The latest SAOS Update is now available here: 

Our older newsletters are also available at:

Agriculture Strategy Champions Call for More Collaboration

The Scottish Government has published a discussion document produced by the four ‘Agricultural Champions’ who were appointed by Cabinet Secretary Fergus Ewing to advise on future agriculture strategy. Included in the six strategic themes that are identified, is a clear and unequivocal call for more collaboration amongst farmers and within their supply chains.

The Champions state: “We have discussed collaboration at length with our contributors and are struck by how many benefits it can bring: economies of scale in purchasing and selling; sharing of specialist machinery and staff; market information; risk management; logistics; branding and marketing,” and they conclude: “We see great potential in encouraging greater use of collaboration and building on the excellent, if sometimes unrecognised, work of SAOS.”

In discussing the strategic theme concerned with addressing “opportunities for careers in the rural sector”, the Champions make special mention of Ringlink’s internship scheme, currently targeted at schools in the co-op’s trading area. The report notes that: “At present there is no pre-apprenticeship option for rural skills, but we believe this principle would be beneficial and should be worked up drawing on the lessons of the well-established internship programme run by Ringlink.”

In response to the document, James Graham, SAOS Chief Executive said: “I enjoyed participating in one of the Champions’ working groups, as did Jim Booth, and naturally I’m very pleased that in their discussion paper they have taken full account of all the evidence that I, and several others, contributed. We already have some excellent exemplar farmer co-ops and collaborative supply chains in Scotland, and Ringlink stands out for their work in reaching out to school leavers, but there’s absolutely no doubt that there is great potential for more, right across Scotland.”

James continued: “It is also valuable that the Champions’ conclusions align closely with Ambition 2030, the strategy adopted by the Scotland Food & Drink Partnership for industry growth, launched earlier in 2017.  Facilitating more supply chain collaboration is one of its ‘Pillars of Growth’ and the SAOS team is already hard at work with co-ops and supply chains on some ambitious initiatives.”

James concludes: “Whilst we much appreciate the Champions’ endorsement of SAOS’ development activities, our work is, of course, enabled by a range of partners and not least by our member co-ops, the Scottish Government, and Scotland Food & Drink.”

The four Agriculture Champions are Archie Gibson, Henry Graham, John Kinnaird and Marion MacCormick.  The document ‘An Interim Discussion Document from the Government’s Agriculture Champions setting out the six strategic themes can be accessed on line at The Scottish Government invites comments on the conclusions by 29 December 2017 to be sent to