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