I recently enjoyed a very interesting and informative visit with Ian Davidson and Yumi Kato to meet Stephen Withers and Neil Sandilands at Upper Hundalee farm, Jedburgh. Yumi is from Japan and is currently undertaking a PhD at Newcastle University studying different approaches to land access. Japan has very similar issues to here in Scotland making it difficult for new aspiring young farmers to access land and capital.
It was so interesting and encouraging to learn all about the joint venture partnership that Stephen and Neil had set up 13 years ago and how this had allowed the sheep enterprise to expand from 650 to 2000 breeding ewes. Prior to starting this agreement Neil had been employed as a shepherd. Stephen quickly recognised his shepherding skills and identified this was a fantastic opportunity for him to grow the business as well as providing Neil with the opportunity to take his first steps into farm business management. This has enabled Neil to establish and build equity in the business and for the partnership to purchase additional land to support the expansion of the sheep enterprise. Their business relationship has continued to develop and flourish throughout this period.
Stephen is now currently developing another joint venture and has recently secured another partner to take this venture forward, this time on the cattle enterprise. He sees this as another long-term project and recognises the importance of getting someone who can fit in well and complement the existing set up just as he has successfully done with Neil.
Although the initial arrangement was in place prior to SLMS it is a good example of the type of opportunity that we would like to promote and encourage to others. Stephen and Neil would be happy to talk to anyone who may be thinking about developing a similar type of opportunity.
If you are interested in finding out a bit more, we can be contacted on 07741 902648 or via our website https://www.slms.scot
Allan Young BSc (Hons) Agriculture – Independent Advisor, Scottish Land Matching Service.